You have probably heard this plotline before. It is a common one that goes something like this: a younger relative of a wealthy person in need of money or just plain greedy, murders the elderly relative to inherit his or her estate or cash out a life insurance policy.
This is more than just a Hollywood fantasy. It happens in real life.
There are even famous examples from history, such as the Roman Emperor Tiberius who was killed by his heir Caligula or so the writer Suetonius alleged.
We actually do have laws that are designed to prevent this from occurring known as "Slayer Statutes."
They generally state that people cannot inherit from those they are responsible for killing.
However, they can have their limitations, one of which the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog discussed in "Court Determines that Slayer Statute is Not Applicable in Self-Defense Case."
In the case discussed, it was not clear what led to the death of the holder of a life insurance policy. The sole beneficiary of the policy was involved in the death and had given conflicting statements.
The beneficiary was not convicted of murder and claimed self-defense.
The deceased's sister sued to claim the policy, but the court decided that since there was some merit to the self-defense claim, the slayer statute did not apply.
Needless to say, it is good that slayer statutes exist to guard against profiting by killing, even if the statutes do have some limitations.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (April 11, 2017) "Court Determines that Slayer Statute is Not Applicable in Self-Defense Case."