Who May Benefit From A Will? - Example3

By Stan Taylor Written on:

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Making a Will is not about wealth it is about making sure that what you want to happen to your estate does happen. It gives you the opportunity to specify such things as who will administer your estate, who will care for your children and who will receive specific items of your property.

Bill has three children: John, Charles and Molly. Charles is found guilty of the murder of his father following a family row which unfortunately escalated out of control.

Bill's will stated that he left his estate 'to such of my children as are living at my death and if more than one in equal shares.' Under the forfeiture rule Charles is not entitled to have his share so John and Molly take the entire estate between them.

A survivor of a suicide pact would in all probability be caught by this rule.

For the purposes of applying the rule, no account is taken of the killer's moral guilt or the motive or intention behind the killing. The result is that so-called `mercy killings' would result in forfeiture as well.

Originally this was a rule created by judges. Later the rule was given statutory recognition in the Forfeiture Act 1982.

The Act applies to deaths on or after 13th October 1982 and in one respect modifies the original rule. Under this Act the court may in certain circumstances give relief from the consequences of the rule but only with regard to unlawful killings other than murder. Murder always results in forfeiture.

The relief is granted at the discretion of the court and is not a foregone conclusion. As stated above, the forfeiture rule applies to manslaughter regardless of the moral guilt. From time to time, manslaughter charges can arise in circumstances where the opinion of the general public might be sympathetic to the defendant.

It is for this reason that the court has the discretion to grant relief from the rule in some instances.

As with divorce you will frequently see professional wills including the phrase 'if my wife shall fail to survive me by twenty eight days or the gift to her shall fail for any other reason I give . . .' to cover this contingency.

One further point to note here is that, unlike the provisions for divorce, the rule does not operate as if the killer had died before the testator. In a fairly recent case the child of a killer was held not to be entitled to take the testator's estate in place of his father.

If his father had died before the testator in the normal course of events he would have stepped into his father's shoes and inherited what was due to him. As the rule works by way of barring the killer from benefit and not by deeming him to die before the testator, the son was excluded from benefit. That particular case being an intestacy, the estate passed to the persons next entitled.

One might comment that this is a clear example of the sins of the father etc., etc.

Want to know more - Wills Including Animals or Who May Benefit From A Will? - Charities

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see: Making a will - The Law Society. Please note that will making differs in Scotland and this website currently deals with English laFree Will download


Perhaps you might consider taking legal advice from a solicitor about making a will if any of the following apply to your circumstances:


  1. A number of people could make a claim on your estate when you pass away because they depend on yourself financially
  2. You want to include a trust in your will (perhaps to provide for children, to save tax, or simply protect your assets in some way after you become deceased)
  3. Your physical and permanent home is not in the UK and / or you are not a British citizen
  4. You live here in the UK but you have additional property abroad
  5. You own all or part of a UK business.

see: Making a will - The Law Society. Please note that will making differs in Scotland and this website currently deals with English law.

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