How the Slayer Statute Makes Killings a Grave Mistake

October 19, 2022

Watching serial killers slash their way across movie screens is oddly entertaining, and horrific villains like Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger have grown more famous with every victim. But off-screen, real monsters are prevented from winning fame or fortune after causing the death of another person, thanks to laws like Florida’s Slayer Statute.

If someone’s death is caused intentionally, the Florida Slayer Statute will keep their property out of the killer’s hands. This is true even if the killer:

  • Killed their mom or dad.
  • Is named in their victim’s Last Will and Testament (“Will”) or is listed as a beneficiary in their life insurance policy.
  • Would have automatically inherited when there is no Will.
  • Jointly owned property with the victim, such as bank accounts or real estate.
  • In the case of an elderly victim, did not overtly kill but committed abuse, neglect, exploitation, or another action that led to the death.

The Florida Slayer Statute does not prevent the killer’s other family members from inheriting the victim’s property if they are in line to benefit. For instance, if a man kills his mother and she had named him and his children from inheriting assets, her grandchildren can still benefit. Here are 3 real life horror stories in which the killers were prevented from inheriting.

1. O.J. Simpson

The good news is that the statute applies even if the killer is acquitted of murder. The most famous example of this kind of opposite-outcomes-civil-vs-criminal case is the O.J. Simpson murder trial, where he was found both not guilty (in his criminal trial) and guilty (in his civil trial) for the same murders. Simpson was ordered to pay an eye-popping $33.5 million to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L. Goldman in the civil case.

These provisions would kill the plots of movie thrillers like Double Indemnity, in which two lovers plot a murder to collect on a life insurance policy. In real life, such legal provisions are essential protections for loved ones of murder victims around the country.

2. Scott Peterson

Scott Peterson could not profit from the murder of his wife, Laci Peterson, and their unborn son. He had been convicted of murder in 2003 but argued that he was entitled to collect the $250,000 life insurance proceeds because his conviction was pending appeal and was not final. But Laci Peterson’s estate successfully argued that he should forfeit the money because the “preponderance of evidence” showed his guilt.

3. Ryan Grantham

Most recently, in September 2022, Riverdale and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, actor Ryan Grantham was sentenced to life in prison for killing his mother in 2020. He will be eligible for parole in 14 years. It is too soon to know about any inheritance, but Grantham had confessed to the murder, so he is not likely to have any claim against her estate.

You probably should not worry about family members killing you or serial killers jumping out at you from the basement. But just in case, do NOT go down there until you make sure your estate plan is out of danger. For a free phone consultation, contact us at (954) 251-0332 or Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish and Russian.