Homicide and Succession to Property

Today, most jurisdictions bar a killer from succeeding to his victim’s property. The traditional rationale for that result is that a criminal should not be allowed to enrich himself by his crime. Assuming that this principle is sound, its application in individual cases often proves troublesome. What would happen, for example, if the crime were of a lesser degree than murder, and the killer had no intent to enrich himself? If the killer is barred, who should take what would have been his share under a will? Or, if the decedent and murderer held property jointly, should the killer forfeit his interest in the property? As this Article will show, these questions and others have posed no little difficulty, and have inspired diverse attempts at resolution.