Forfeiture quiz

The forfeiture rule is that no one who unlawfully kills another person can share in the victim's estate or receive any financial benefit from their death.  The VLRC is reviewing some aspects of the rule, especially where it may lead to outcomes that are not fair. The following scenarios highlight some of the issues that can arise.

What do you think would happen in each of these scenarios? Decide your response, then check the answers to see the current law in Victoria.

Murder

1. Joan is a live-in carer for her Uncle Brian, who suffers from multiple sclerosis. He says that he has left the house to her. However, he decides to sell the house and move into a nursing home. Joan is worried about losing her inheritance and kills Brian by giving him an overdose of his medication. She is convicted of murder. Can she still inherit from Uncle Brian?

(a) Yes
(b) No
(c) The Supreme Court decides.

What's the current law in Victoria?

Acquitted of criminal charges

2. Byron, his brother Winston, and his sister Clarice are the beneficiaries of a trust. Byron shoots and kills Winston after Winston threatens to kill their father, but at his criminal trial he is found not guilty of murder or manslaughter. Byron now stands to benefit financially as his share of the trust has increased from one third to one half. Clarice takes civil action against Byron in the Supreme Court. What happens if the Court decides that, on the balance of probabilities, Byron killed Winston unlawfully? 

(a) Byron gets a larger share of the trust – one half.
(b) Byron’s share stays the same as it was before – one third.
(c) Byron loses everything.

What's the current law in Victoria?

Not guilty because of mental impairment

3. Owen has a serious mental illness. He lives with his mother, Juliana, and his sister Gina. Juliana is concerned about Owen’s future and leaves everything to him in her will so he can be taken care of. During a psychotic episode, Owen kills Juliana. Owen is found not guilty of murder because of mental impairment. Who will inherit Juliana’s estate?

(a) Gina
(b) Owen
(c) Owen and Gina

What's the current law in Victoria?

Family violence

4. Sam is 15 and has been severely physically and sexually abused by his stepfather throughout his life. One day he snaps and kills both his stepfather and his mother and is convicted of manslaughter. Neither of the victims left a will. His stepfather dies last. His stepfather and mother have a son together and his stepfather also has a daughter from a previous relationship. Who will inherit their estate?

(a) Sam and his half-brother will inherit his mother’s share of the property and the other two children will inherit their father’s interest
(b) Sam and the other two children in equal shares
(c) Only the other two children

What's the current law in Victoria?

Survivor of suicide pact

5. Colleen lives with chronic pain as result of arthritis and wishes to end her life. She and her partner Keith plan to commit suicide together but do not make a will. Keith turns on the gas in the kitchen and they sit together waiting to die. A neighbour finds them and paramedics revive Keith, but Colleen has passed away. Keith has one child from a previous relationship, as does Colleen. Keith is convicted of manslaughter but does not go to prison. Who will inherit Colleen’s estate on her death intestate (without leaving a will)?

(a) Keith
(b) Colleen’s child
(c) The children of both Keith and Colleen

What's the current law in Victoria?

Culpable driving

6. Andre and Marina have a daughter, Natalie. Driving home while drunk, Andre crashes a car into a tree and Marina is killed. Andre is convicted of culpable driving causing death. In her will, Marina has left everything to Andre. What happens to the family home that Andre and Marina own as joint tenants?

(a) Andre becomes the sole owner of the house.
(b) Andre gets legal title of the house but must hold Marina’s half-interest in the property on trust for Natalie.
(c) Either of the above.

What's the current law in Victoria?

Gifts over

7. Rosa plans to leave everything to her favourite nephew Gino in her will, but if Gino dies first she wants it to go to The Happy Home for Abandoned Pets.  Rosa’s other relatives are not mentioned in her will. Gino runs over Rosa in his motor vehicle following an argument and she dies from her injuries. He’s convicted of manslaughter. Who will inherit Rosa’s estate?

(a) Gino
(b) The Happy Home for Abandoned Pets
(c) Other relatives

What's the current law in Victoria?

Intestacy 

8. Graham and Margaret die without a will (intestate) after their only child, Jenny, stabbed them to death. Graham died last. Their only surviving relatives are Jenny, Jenny’s children and Margaret’s brother Jack. The police mishandled the murder weapon, and as a result, the weapon could not be used in evidence at a criminal trial. The case against Jenny was therefore not tried in a criminal court, but a civil court held that on the balance of probabilities Jenny was responsible for the deaths of Graham and Margaret. Who will inherit Graham and Margaret’s estate?

(a) Jenny
(b) Jenny’s children
(c) Jack
(d) The state

What's the current law in Victoria?

Joint tenancy

9. Aakash owns a hobby farm in a joint tenancy with his de facto partner Ben. Aakash’s parents are still alive. Ben shoots and kills Aakash during a domestic dispute, and is convicted of murder. What happens to the farm?

(a) Aakash’s parents get the farm
(b) Legal title in the farm goes to Ben, but Ben holds half his interest in the property on trust for the benefit of Aakash’s parents as takers of his estate
(c) Ben gets the farm

What's the current law in Victoria?

10. Carly, Eve and Rifa are friends who bought a house together as joint tenants. Eve and Rifa take drugs at home one Saturday night, and Eve pushes Rifa down the stairs whilst in a state of paranoia. She then runs from the house and doesn’t tell anyone about what happened. Rifa is injured but is not found and assisted until Sunday night when Carly returns home. The medical treatment is administered too late and Rifa dies of her injuries. Eve is convicted of manslaughter. What happens to the house?

(a) Eve and Carly continue as joint tenants over the full property.
(b) Carly and Eve retain their interests in the property and Rifa’s interest passes to her beneficiaries.
(c) Carly and Eve will remain joint tenants over two thirds of the property but Rifa’s one-third share in the property would be transferred to Carly.
(d) Ownership over the house in its entirety would go to Carly.

What's the current law in Victoria?

Find out more and make a submission

To find out more about the forfeiture rule see the consultation paper. To make a submission, write to us or complete the online submission form.

Main menu

Back to top