When can a killer inherit from the victim?

The Victorian Law Reform Commission has launched its inquiry into the “forfeiture rule”, following a reference from the Attorney-General. When a person unlawfully causes another person’s death, this common law principle says they forfeit any inheritance, insurance policy, or payment that they would otherwise have received. The VLRC explains the concern about the rule: “In Victoria, the rule applies equally and inflexibly in all circumstances but the outcome can be harsh. Both a premeditated murder carried out with the intention of obtaining a financial benefit, and a suicide pact in which one of the parties survived, would attract the application of the rule.” In addition, because the rule applies in civil proceedings, “The rule may be applied to a person who has been acquitted, or has not been prosecuted at all, if it is proved to the court, on the balance of probabilities, that the person unlawfully killed the deceased.” VLRC has set up a forfeiture quiz to highlight problematic scenarios.