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Park Ridge IL Medicaid and Estate Planning Legal Blog

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Slayer Rule in Illinois

Q: Can someone inherit from someone they intentionally kill?

Very often, the first milestone in life that sends a couple to an Illinois estate planning attorney is parenthood (even though everyone over 18 should have an initial estate plan created).

Estate planning for children is a critical responsibility in parenting. One of the most important functions of a last will and testament (a.k.a. a “will”) is to name legal guardians and successor guardians to raise your children should you die before they reach the age of majority. Failure to do this will result in the court deciding who will raise your children.

Virtually all parents choose to name their minor and/or adult children as beneficiaries of their estates. This may be done in through their wills and trusts. Through estate planning, parents can control how much and when distributions to children – – even adult children – – will be made. Parents can designate funds to be used for their children's college educations and can choose when other distributions of the inheritance get turned over to the child. This helps to avoid financially irresponsible or financially immature adult children from blowing their whole inheritance.

Trusts enable you to control your wealth after your death and allow you to continue to shape your children's future as to the terms and timing of wealth distribution. Of course, many children are not aware of sophisticated estate planning strategies and may wrongly assume that upon their parents’ deaths they automatically and immediately inherit everything.

Such may have been the case with respect to a man in his mid-20s who was arrested “on suspicion of murder and attempted murder” of his parents in California.

According to authorities, he and his roommate planned to murder his parents "in order to collect and split his inheritance". The mother had been shot once in the face and was in critical condition while the father died from a gunshot wound to the chest. Reportedly, both suspects "separately confessed" to a mutual acquaintance who informed the authorities.

Apparently, the son and his friend were not aware of the “Slayer Rule”. Most states have a similar version of the “Slayer Rule” which in essence provides that someone who "intentionally and unjustifiably" kills you cannot inherit or otherwise receive a share of your property. Basically, you cannot financially benefit from killing another person if the killing was intentional and unjustifiable. However, if the killing is determined to be accidental, unintentional, or justifiable (as in self-defense, for example) it may not bar a beneficiary from inheriting.

If you have questions regarding an initial estate plan, or would like to modify an existing one, The Law Office of Thomas J. Hansen can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

From our office in Park Ridge, Illinois, we represent clients throughout the state, including Niles, Des Plaines, Glenview, Norridge, and Rosemont.

Thomas J. Hansen, LTD. assists clients in Park Ridge, Cook County, IL as well as Niles, Des Plaines, Glenview, Norridge, and Rosemont.

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