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The Slayer Statute in the News Again

By January 16, 2015No Comments

Teen allegedly murders mom; mom was affluent; teen charged with murder; teen is poor but retains defense team; asks trustee, who is teen’s brother for legal expense funds; brother says no; through lawyers teen sues estate to pay legal defense fees.

Question: Will teen prevail in lawsuit?

According to Illinois’s slayer statute, it depends. The plain language of the statute provides that one cannot profit from causing another person’s death:

The Bad Seed 1956 PosterA person who intentionally and unjustifiably causes the death of another shall not receive any property, benefit, or other interest by reason of the death, whether as heir, legatee, beneficiary, joint tenant, survivor, appointee or in any other capacity and whether the property, benefit, or other interest passes pursuant to any form of title registration, testamentary or nontestamentary instrument, intestacy, renunciation, or any other circumstance.

The property, benefit, or other interest shall pass as if the person causing the death died before the decedent, provided that with respect to joint tenancy property the interest possessed prior to the death by the person causing the death shall not be

However, the operative word in the statute is “causes.” This means that the person must be first convicted of knowingly, without legal justification, killing another human being.

Ms. Mack hasn’t been convicted yet. So what may happen? The court may tell defense to bill but don’t even think about collecting until the jury is in. The next issue is then whether Ms. Mack be able to keep this same defense team.

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