Forfeiture rule
Forfeiture rule

The following Wills & Probate practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Forfeiture rule
  • Forfeiture principle
  • Forfeiture rule
  • Application and effect of the rule
  • Modification of the rule

Forfeiture claims may not be probate actions by definition, but they will inevitably involve personal representatives and/or beneficiaries in court proceedings.

Forfeiture principle

The background to forfeiture rests in the principle that it would be inequitable to permit the perpetrator of a crime to benefit from that crime.

Forfeiture rule

This rule:

'… means the rule of public policy which in certain circumstances precludes a person who has unlawfully killed another from acquiring a benefit in consequence of the killing.'

It does not matter whether the benefit is acquired by Will or through intestacy.

Additionally, the rule is extended to include:

'… a person who has unlawfully aided, abetted, counselled or procured the death of that other.'

It seems that the principle and, indeed, the Forfeiture Act 1982 (FoA 1982) itself, only apply to the criminal and:

'… that the crime of one person may prevent that person from the assertion of what would otherwise be a right, and may accelerate or beneficially affect the rights of third persons, but can never prejudice or injuriously affect those rights.'

Thus it was held that the assignee of the offender's interest in an insurance policy, such as a mortgagee, may obtain payment under it.

Application and effect of the rule

Note that deaths on and after 1 February 2012 are subject to the provisions of the Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Act 2011 (EDP(FRLS)A

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