In 2008 the deceased died at the hands of one of her two sons. In 2012, son Brent was tried and convicted before the Supreme Court of Western Australia for the murder of his mother. In 2014 this family was again touched by sadness when Brent’s brother and only other child of the deceased, Adrian passed away.  Adrian died without leaving a Will which meant his estate would be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. In 2016 a grant of letters of administration of Adrian’s estate was made to the Public Trustee (WA).

The Public Trustee (WA) made an application for direction from the Court as to how to distribute the part of Adrian’s estate which was made up of inheritance from his deceased mother’s estate. Pursuant to the rules of intestacy, two persons were entitled to benefit from Adrian’s estate when he died namely Brent and Adrian’s half-brother, Gary. Gary was not a child of Adrian’s deceased mother.

In the deceased mother’s estate, the Court made orders that by reason of Brent having murdered his mother, he forfeited his entitlement to take in intestacy from her estate. But Brent’s entitlement to a share of Adrian’s Estate does not arise directly from Brent’s crime committed in 2008 by the murder of his mother. It arises from Adrian’s death in 2014 and the fact that Adrian died intestate and the effect of the rules of intestacy. There was no suggestion that Brent was responsible for Adrian’s death. However Adrian would not have had an entitlement to the whole of his mother’s estate but for her death at Brent’s hand.

Perhaps mercifully the Court noted “there appears to be no Australian authority directly on point”. “Intuitively it would seem to be a logical extension of the rule of forfeiture to hold that a person in the position of Brent, a convicted murderer, could not benefit directly or indirectly as a consequence of his crime”.

Ultimately the Court decided that the application of the common law forfeiture rule meant that Brent should not receive any part of Adrian’s estate which derived from his late mother’s estate.

In the above cases, both mother and son died without leaving a Will. A carefully drafted Will could have avoided some of the uncertainty associated with the rules of intestacy. At Everingham Solomons, we have the expertise and experience to assist you with all your estate planning matters because Helping You is Our Business.

Click here for more information on Lesley McDonnell