Sunday, February 7, 2016
Kevin Bennardo (Professor of Law, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Slaying Contingent Beneficiaries, 24 U. Miami Bus. L. Rev. 31. Provided below is an abstract of the article:
This Article analyzes what impact, if any, the slaying of one beneficiary by another should have on distribution of a decedent’s property. This issue could arise in a variety of conveyances, such as intestate succession, wills, pay-on-death bank accounts, transfer-on-death securities, or life insurance proceeds. Based on equity, the Restatement (Third) of Restitution takes the position that a beneficiary may never move forward in the line of succession as the result of a slaying. This result is thought to be an extension of the traditional “slayer rule,” which disallows a slayer from inheriting from her victim.
The Article argues for the opposite conclusion: the slaying of a higher-priority beneficiary by a contingent beneficiary does not result in unjust enrichment because it does not result in a transfer of a property interest to the slayer. Although the slayer advances in the line of succession as a result of the slaying, the slayer still only possesses a defeasible expectancy, not a property interest. Because an expectancy is the legal equivalent of nothing, the slayer has not profited as a result of the killing.