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Florida Slayer Statute

Written by on Jan 11, 2011| Posted in: Probate Litigation


An interesting case out of New York is making headlines.  It involves a young man, heroin addict who admitted to killing his mother-in-law after she caught him trying to steal jewelry from her Long Island home.  He subsequently entered a plea agreement for 25 years in jail, avoiding life in prison.  Prior to the victim’s murder, she had prepared a Will bequeathing all of her estate to her only daughter.  The daughter, married to the murderer, was never charged in the crime.  After the man was arrested for the murder in November 2009, he remained in jail during which time his wife, the victim’s daughter, died in February 2010, leaving everything in her Estate to her jailed husband.  The victim’s family is, needless to say, outraged and attempting to set aside the plea bargain made with the murderer unless he agrees to give up his victim’s remaining legacy.  See link to New York Post article dated January 3, 2011, “Murderer To Inherit Fortune – From Victim” by Kieran Crowley.

As previously discussed on this blog, Florida’s Slayer statute §732.802, prohibits a surviving person who unlawfully and intentionally kills or participates in procuring the death of a decedent from receiving any benefits under the decedent’s Will or through intestate succession, treating the decedent’s estate as if the killer had predeceased the decedent.  However, how would Florida’s Slayer statute apply under the circumstances as occurred in this recent New York case?  There does not appear to be a section under Florida’s Slayer statute which applies to this set of facts.  Certainly one could construe Florida Statute §732.802 as a blanket denial of any financial benefit to the killer, resulting from the death of the victim, whether directly and/or through any indirect means, including through a third party not involved in the murder such as the case in New York.

What is also an interesting issue about the case in New York is the article above suggest that the victim’s family appears to be seeking monetary gain through the potential threat of further criminal sanctions which may be construed as extortion and criminal in and of itself.

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