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Accredited Specialist, Adrian Corbould discusses a recent case and how the Forfeiture Rule applies in NSW.


Adrian Corbould: Hello. Adrian Corbould, Accredited Specialist, Wills & Estates, Turnbull Hill Lawyers.

There’s a general legal principle called The Forfeiture Rule, worldwide. What it means is that if you kill someone else, you cannot benefit from their estate. This generally happens with children killing their parents, spouses killing their spouse and it doesn’t have to be the intent to benefit, they just have to be criminally responsible for their death. If that occurs, they receive nothing.

In the news this week, there was a fellow who killed both his parents, he had a long history of mental illness, arguing over something very simple. However, at his trial, due to his mental illness, he was found not guilty. So, not criminally responsible for his parent’s death.

His parents had a two million dollar estate and they had two children. So, under the Forfeiture Rule, if he was found to not be responsible, not criminally responsible for their death, he should be okay because the law found that he was not guilty.

However, in New South Wales, there is a piece of legislation, so a written down law called the Forfeiture Act. And what that piece of law permits is that the Supreme Court can modify how a beneficiary receives something from an estate if the Forfeiture Rule applies, or if it doesn’t apply, and there are certain circumstances.

So, in this instance, they took in to account, his history, his history with his parents, his future, and although he should have received a million dollars because he wasn’t found criminally responsible, the Forfeiture Act, specifically, says, if someone is found not guilty due to mental illness, they can modify. So, they took him from a million down to $100,000.

The Forfeiture Act covers many other circumstances, not just if someone is found not guilty due to mental illness. Won’t go into them today, this is just a brief overview as to Forfeiture Rule, Forfeiture Act and how a beneficiary’s entitlement can be modified.

Thanks for watching.

If you have further questions, please call us at Turnbull Hill Lawyers.

Turnbull Hill Lawyers, and specifically Adrian Corbould and Mary Windeyer, have been named in the prestigious 2022 Doyles Guide. Both were also listed in the 2021, 2020, 2019 and 2018 guides.

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