Offender’s descendants no longer disqualified from inheriting

Year Published: 2007

Prior to the 1st February 2012, if an individual had made the decision to give up their inheritance or was automatically disqualified from receiving the inheritance, this meant that the individual’s descendants were also unable to benefit from the legacy.

The rule of forfeiture, which still applies, holds that an offender should not benefit from their crime. Therefore if someone is convicted of killing a person they should not be able to then inherit from the deceased’s estate, therefore benefiting from their crime.

Prior to February, if an offender was convicted of killing their parents then the grandchildren of the deceased would also be disqualified from inheriting. It is quite possible that this would not have been the wish of the victims.

As a result of a case in 2001, the Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Act came into force on 1st February 2012 and the rules have now changed meaning that in the above scenarios descendants of the disqualified or disclaiming beneficiary will no longer be disqualified from benefiting. 

The rule of forfeiture which states that persons guilty of unlawful killing cannot benefit from their crimes still stands in place, but now descendants of the convicted offender will be entitled to their inheritance.

It is also good news for those descendants of individuals who have voluntarily elected to disclaim their inheritance.

In addition, the law change effects the position so that a child of a minor can now inherit their parent’s interest, when the parent is under 18 and neither married or in a civil partnership. 

It is important to note that the rules only apply to estates where the deceased did not leave a will and the rules of intestacy apply. Where the deceased left a will the substitute provisions of the will still apply. Therefore, it is extremely important to have a valid will in place to ensure your wealth is passed onto your chosen beneficiaries.

For further information on estate planning please contact Sarah Goodwin in our Private Client team on 0161 475 7689.

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