Ford v. Ford

307 Md. 105, 512 A.2d 389 (1986)

 

RULE:

The slayer's rule, which precludes a killer from being enriched by the reason of his or her criminal conduct, did not operate to preclude an insane daughter who killed her mother from inheriting under the will of her mother.

FACTS:

A daughter stabbed her mother to death. However, at the time the murder was committed, the daughter was found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. The daughter then sought to obtain the property left to her under her mother's will. The alternative beneficiary, the mother's grandson, named in the will asserted that the killer forfeited the entitlement to the property by the matricide. The orphans' court held that the alternative beneficiary was the heir of the estate, but the circuit court disagreed and decided that the daughter was entitled to the property, reasoning that no crime had been committed because the daughter had been found to be criminally insane at the time of the homicide. The alternative beneficiary sought further review.

ISSUE:

Did the slayer's rule, which precluded a killer from being enriched by the reason of his or her criminal conduct, operate to preclude a daughter, who had been found not guilty by reason of insanity, from inheriting under the will of her mother?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The court held that the slayer's rule, which precluded a killer from being enriched by the reason of his or her criminal conduct, did not operate to preclude the killer from inheriting under the will of her mother. The court determined that the slayer's rule was not applicable where the killer was not criminally responsible for her conduct at the time she committed the homicide. Although the court reached the same conclusion that the circuit court did, it disagreed with the circuit court's reasoning. The court found that permitting the killer to share in the distribution of her victim's assets was consistent with the principles of equity.

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