Minnesota Estate Planning Law | The Slayer Statute

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on December 12, 2017

The Slayer Rule

When most people think of estate planning law, they dont usually imagine much excitement. Murder, disappearance, millions of dollars and intrigue. It sounds more like a made for television movie than a probate case. But thats exactly whats happening in a case currently pending in New Hampshire. One family is engaged in a bitter battle over a multi-million dollar fortune, with some relatives pointing the finger at another for murder. Though the case itself is interesting, it also sheds light on an important, but seldom discussed legal principle known as the slayer rule.

The issue in New Hampshire involves a probate case worth nearly $40 million from the estate of John Chakalos. Chakalos was killed back in December of 2013 after being shot three times while lying in his bed. At the time, police say they considered whether Nathan Carman, Chakalos grandson, might be a suspect in the murder, but no charges have been pursued. That said, police say the case is still open and they continue to pursue leads.

Fast forward several years and in September of 2016, Nathan and his mother went on what Nathan describes as a fishing expedition on his boat. Nathan says the boat started taking on water unbeknownst to him and once he realized the extent of the problem it was already too late to save the boat. Nathan claims that while he was searching for a life jacket and supplies, his mother disappeared into the ocean. Ultimately, the boat they were on sank and Nathan was rescued by a passing ship days later, floating on an emergency life raft.

Immediately after his mothers disappearance, Nathan took control of a bank account worth about $400,000, an account that used to belong jointly to him, his mother and grandfather. Now Nathan and other family members are embroiled in a probate dispute about who has the right to inherit from Chakalos’ estate. Specifically, Nathans aunts have gone before a local probate judge to argue that he should be barred from receiving any share of his grandfathers estate and, in addition, any share of his grandfathers estate that would have flowed to his mother. The aunts accuse Nathan of committing a heinous act and believe that he murdered his own grandfather in an attempt to collect millions in inheritance. They are now asking for the probate court to deny him the opportunity to profit from what they say was an illegal act.

Though the case in New Hampshire is far from over, it raises some interesting questions about whether a person can commit a crime, such as murder, and then profit from the crime by inheriting from the deceased. Though we might instinctively view this as wrong, the law needs more than instinct. Thankfully, this issue has been thought through and laws on the subject already exist. Most states in the U.S. have passed into law language known as slayer rules. This language prevents killers from inheriting money from their victims. Slayers are described as those who intentionally or feloniously cause the death of another person and are thus barred from benefiting from the victims will or a share of his or her estate.

Minnesota Estate Planning Law

In Minnesota, the issue is dealt with in Section 524.2-803 of Minnesota Statutes. The law says: “A surviving spouse, heir or devisee who feloniously and intentionally kills the decedent is not entitled to any benefits under the will or under this article, including an intestate share, an elective share, an omitted spouse’s or child’s share, homestead, exempt property, and a family allowance, and the estate of decedent passes as if the killer had predeceased the decedent. Property appointed by the will of the decedent to or for the benefit of the killer passes as if the killer had predeceased the decedent.” In Minnesota, it’s clear that the same rule applies. Those who had a hand in the untimely demise of a loved one cannot later profit from the person’s death.

Minnesota Estate Planning Lawyers

An experienced Minnesota estate-planning lawyer can help walk you through the probate process, answering questions along the way. For more information on estate planning in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.

Source: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-news-nathan-carman-slayer-lawsuit-hearing-20171116-story.html

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