A Rhode Island man was accused of drowning his wife.  His conviction in the British Virgin Islands was later overturned.  However, his wife’s parents sued him for wrongful death and won a $2.8 million judgment against him.  The man was the designated beneficiary of his wife’s will.  His children from a prior relationship were the contingent beneficiaries.

After the wrongful death judgment, the estate executor sought to have the man removed as a beneficiary of his wife’s will under the RI Slayer Statute.  The executor also sought to have the man’s children removed as beneficiaries under the theory that they should not benefit from the misdeeds of their father.

The RI Supreme Court recently upheld a ruling against the children which prohibits them from inheriting under their step-mother’s will.   One of the rationales in the decision is that the children continued to maintain their father’s innocence and said they would use the assets to defend him.

Several points:

1.  I think the  court is wrong.   The children were specifically listed as beneficiaries if their father were to pre-decease them (or allegedly kill his wife).     As such, they are not “inheriting through him” which is prohibited under RI law.

2.  Is it me, or does it seem that anytime a female US citizen drowns in a foreign country that a murder allegation arises against the husband?  You will not see me swimming outside the US.

3.  If your father allegedly murders someone and you will benefit from his misdeed, do not tell people you will spend the inheritance on his defense. Keep your mouth shut and spend the money quietly.