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How Florida Law Prevents Killers from Inheriting Their Victims’ Estates

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How many times have you watched a TV crime drama where someone murdered the victim so the killer could inherit the estate? In real life, it is not that simple. In Florida, there is a law commonly known as the “Slayer Statute,” which basically says you cannot “unlawfully and intentionally” kill someone and then “benefit” from their estate, even if you are named in the deceased person’s will. The Slayer Statute means that as far as the law is concerned, the killer “predeceased” the victim.

It is important to note that the Slayer Statute does necessarily not require a criminal conviction for murder. A judge may decide to apply the Slayer Statute if the “greater weight of the evidence” proves the beneficiary committed an unlawful and intentional killing. However, if the beneficiary has already been convicted at a criminal trial of murder “in any degree,” then the Slayer Statute automatically applies.

Miami Real Estate Executive’s Death Prompts Slayer Statute Claims

The Slayer Statute has been in the headlines recently because of a high-profile probate case pending in Miami. In October 2017, Miami real estate executive Andrea Greenberg died of what appeared to be a heart attack. Greenberg’s boyfriend had called 911 and told the operator he found Greenberg asleep on the couch in an unresponsive state.

But according to the Miami Herald, police soon suspected the boyfriend may have been the actual cause of Greenberg’s death. The Herald reported that the day of Greenberg’s death, the boyfriend started transferring thousands of dollars from Greenberg’s bank account into his own. Next, a formal toxicology report revealed the presence of “three kinds of the opioid fentanyl” in Greenberg’s system at the time of her death.

Recently, Miami police arrested the boyfriend on charges of stealing money from Greenberg’s estate. He has not been charged with murder or causing Greenberg’s death. Nevertheless, Greenberg’s family continues to press for application of the Slayer Statute to deny him any inheritance from her estate. An attorney for the family told the Herald, “Regardless of whether the state brings a criminal action, we intend to allege he wrongfully participated in her death.”

The family’s efforts have already forced the boyfriend to withdraw a petition to probate a purported will that would have made him the “sole beneficiary and executor” of Greenberg’s estate, according to the Herald. In fact, Miami prosecutors now allege this document was actually a “living will,” a document that only relates to end-of-life decisions, and that the boyfriend “reached out to several of [Greenberg’s] friends asking them to sign an attestation page that would convert the living will into a last will and testament.” Put another way, prosecutors have accused the boyfriend of trying to forge a will that Greenberg never actually signed.

Get Help from a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer Today

Having a proper estate plan in place can help protect your estate and family against potential forgeries and false claims. If you need assistance in preparing a will from a qualified Fort Myers estate planning attorney, contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 today.

Sources:

miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article226089200.html

miamiherald.com/news/local/crime/article206724079.html

https://www.kuhnlegal.com/how-is-a-living-trust-different-from-a-testamentary-trust/

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