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Home | Blog | What happens if as Beneficiary Murders the Testator (the Will Maker)?

The simply answer is that they cannot inherit from the estate as a result of the forfeiture rule.

What is the Forfeiture Rule?

The common law rule known as the Forfeiture Rule operates to prevent the offender from obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration in the estate of his/her victim.  The offender will also be prevented from taking a benefit from a victim’s estate whether it is pursuant to a Will, pursuant to the rules of intestacy, by operation of the right of survivorship in relation to joint tenancy and potentially any direct payments from superannuation or life insurance.

This rule applies strictly in Queensland. The guilt of the offender is determined on the balance of probabilities and not on the higher criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  Accordingly this rule can still apply to an offender who has been acquitted or tried in the criminal proceedings.

A recent example of the forfeiture rule is in the estate of Alison Baden-Clay. Yesterday Justice Peter Applegarth in the Supreme Court ruled that Gerald Baden-Clay will not received anything from his wife Alison’s estate, including superannuation and insurance payouts.

Gerard was named as executor and sole beneficiary of Alison’s estate pursuant to a Will signed before their marriage in 1997.

Alison’s father Geoff Dickie was granted Letters of Administration to manage Alison’s estate and brought an application to the Court for directions on the distributions of the estate.

The application was not opposed by Gerard Baden-Clay.

Alison’s estate will now go to the couple’s daughters who are now 15, 13 and 10.

If you are an Executor/Administrator of an estate and you consider the forfeiture rule may apply, please contact Turner Freeman Lawyers Wills and Estates Department on (07) 3025 9000.

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