Dissolution of a marriage by divorce or annulment is one of the two events triggering marital assets to be distributed; death is the other event. However, if one spouse caused the death of the other, he/she will be prohibited from taking a distribution from his/her spouse’s estate.
The Nassau County Surrogate’s Court in the case of Estate of Adeline Joseph Alexis, 2006 NY Slip Op 26452, restated the well established rule that “One who takes the life of another should not be able to profit from his wrong and shall be barred from inheriting from the person slain.”
In this case, the husband was convicted of murdering his spouse and was, therefore, disqualified from inheriting as a distributee from his wife’s estate.
The Court noted that not only does a murderer not inherit from the victim’s estate, but he/she may be prohibited from collecting any insurance or other death benefits. The underlying principle is that no one should profit from their crime.