Don’t believe everything you see in Hollywood movies!
Under Australia’s estate forfeiture laws, somebody who is convicted of murder cannot inherit any part of their victim’s estate. But the law is much less clear when it comes to people who help to cover up the crime.
Even when somebody is found guilty of being an accessory to murder, they are not necessarily precluded from benefitting from the estate of the deceased.
There are several considerations for the court to make when assessing if a person should be excluded from their inheritance under estate forfeiture laws. These include how culpable the person was for the crime, whether they have been a victim of family violence or abuse, whether they are not mentally fit to plea, and whether they were too young to understand the consequences of their actions.
A recent ABC News article examines multiple cases that delve into some of these issues. The article also raises the question of what will happen to that person when they are released from jail. It is highly likely that they will find themselves in a situation of financial instability and stress. What would happen to them then?
Hypothetically, should they be going on a social security benefit? Should the taxpayer fund this person who’s committed this offence when the deceased died with sufficient assets to make a provision for them? It’s not as clear-cut as people think.
The issue is further complicated by the public perception of such cases. There is an expectation from the public that a person shouldn’t benefit from their crime. However, it can be difficult to reconcile this expectation with some of the more complex and nuanced estate forfeiture cases.
Oh, the morality of inheritance! Should the estate pay out a benefit to somebody who was an accessory to murder? Our sense of justice says no, but by the same token, why should we have to bear the cost?
If you have any questions about inheritance, wills or estates, or if you want to chat about Hollywood movies, then give Martin Bullock Lawyers a call on 02 9687 9322.