Berman & Asbel, LLP

Dispute over inheritance leads to shooting

An 80-year-old man was recent convicted of attempted murder in a middle-of-the-night shooting that took place at the home of his son. Prosecutors said that the man showed up at his son’s home and attempted to kill him after the son inherited an estate from the man’s mother that he apparently expected to receive.

This case brings up a variety of different issues, including whether the man would have been eligible to inherit in place of his son had the crime been completed. The short answer is generally “no” since the laws of estates and trusts prohibit the receipt of an inheritance or bequest in the event that the beneficiary brought about the person’s death. In this case it is slightly more complicated since the son was alive to receive the estate and he was the current owner.

This means that if he had died in the shooting it would have passed per the terms of his will, and if not, through the laws of intestacy in that state. In that scenario even if the father was the legal recipient as the only remaining member of the son’s immediate family (meaning he had no children, spouse, siblings, or surviving mother), it is unlikely that the court would allow the father to take the estate. Instead it would pass as though the father was dead, perhaps to a cousin or aunt or uncle.

This type of case is very rare and an unlikely scenario in most families. However, it is important to be aware of the issues and to understand how outside events can impact an estate plan.

Source: WUSA, “James Lewis tried to kill son over inheritance,” Jan. 9, 2013. 

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