Interpretation of Florida Slayer Statute Brought Into Question After Series of Murders
Florida, like most states, has a law in place to prevent people from profiting from a death that they intentionally and unlawfully cause. This law, known as a “slayer statute,” affects estate law by excluding a killer from inheriting from the estate of the person they killed. Under Florida’s law, anyone who directly kills or “participates in procuring the death of” someone, is treated as if they predeceased the murder victim when it comes time to probate the victim’s will.
A recent Florida case addresses a possible loophole in this statute. In this case, a woman named Narcy Novack was convicted of arranging for the murder of both her husband and her husband’s mother. Narcy’s husband had considerable assets, but his will would have passed the assets to his mother upon his death had his mother not died first.
Upon her conviction in a federal district court in New York, Narcy Novack received a life sentence. The estate case, however, played out in a Broward County, Florida, probate court.
Due to the slayer statute, the probate process treated Narcy as having predeceased her husband. Because the man’s mother had also predeceased him, the probate court ruled that the man’s assets should pass to Narcy’s children.
Other family members quickly challenged this ruling, arguing that the slayer statute should prevent this indirect type of profit from murder. While Narcy is in prison, this ruling would allow her children to put money directly in her commissary account.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal took the case and examined the meaning of the statute. In upholding the lower court’s verdict, they found that, although the statute may have unintended results, it is up to the legislature to change it. For the time being, it appears that a loophole will allow a murderer’s heirs to benefit from her criminal actions.
If you have questions about intestacy, the probate process or inheritance, speak with a skilled Florida estates attorney at the Charles Law Offices.