All About Estates

Buffy the Vampire (Slayer Rule)

Halloween is right around the corner, so today’s blog post is taking an ominous turn.

Informal Reader Poll: What’s scarier?
a) A horror movie that’s been remade three times
b) Having to remake a client’s will for the third time

Now to the fun stuff…..

There’s a general principle in law and public policy that no advantage may be gained from one’s own wrongdoing. Some relevant examples are:

  • The Slayer rule that prohibits inheritance by a person who murders someone from whom he or she stands to inherit
  • Son of Sam laws that are designed to keep criminals from profiting from the publicity of their crimes
  • Most frighteningly, the latin maxims of commodum ex injuria sua non habere debet and nullus commodum capers potest de injuria sua propria

Is it just me, or do these sound like potential titles for a scary movie?
How about this…The twist at the end is that the masked murderer is also the residuary beneficiary of the victim’s estate. The sequel will write itself.

One of the leading cases in Canada on this topic is Dhingra v. Dhingra, 2012 ONCA 261

The background of this case is that the applicant was charged with the second degree murder of his wife. He was also the beneficiary of her life insurance policy. At the criminal trial, he was found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. The question before the Court of Appeal was whether the public policy rule that prohibits a person from benefiting from his own criminal act would apply.

The Court of Appeal held that if a person found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder is not “morally responsible” for his or her act, there is no rationale for applying the rule of public policy.

To end off this post, I’d like to get back to my earlier tangent on scary movies. The Halloween movie franchise is making a return with a direct sequel to the first film made in 1978. I don’t think you should see it. Waiting 40 years for a horror show seems to be something estate practitioners are already familiar with.

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About Peter Meitanis


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