This section is from the book "The Law Of Real Property and Other Interests In Land", by Herbert Thorn Dike Tiffany. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise on the Modern Law of Real Property and Other Interests in Land .
At common law, while one attainted of treason and felony could not, by alienation of any estate vested in him, deprive the crown of the right to enforce a forfeiture, he could, it seems, make and receive transfers subject to such right in the crown.4 That a
Coxe v. Gulick, 10 N. J. L. 328.
99. 1 Stimson's Am. St. Law, Sec.Sec. 6010-6015.
1. See e. g. Harden v. Fisher, 1 Wheat. (U. S.) 300, 4 L. Ed. 96; Adams v. Akerlund, 168 111. 632, 48 N. E. 454; Wilcke v. Wilcke, 102 Iowa, 173, 71 N. W. 201. In re Stixrud's Estate, 58 Wash. 339, 33 L. R. A. (N. S.)
632, Ann. Cas. 1912A 850, 100 Pac. 343.
2. Ante, this section, notes 90-92.
3. 1 Stimson's Am. St. Law, Sec. 6016.
4. Sheppard's Touchstone, 232; Doe d. Griffith v. Pritchard, 6 Barn. & Adol. 765; Avery v. Everett, 110 N. T. 317, 1 L. R.
3 R. P. - 6 conviction of crime does not affect the capacity of a person to take or transfer land seems true a fortiori in this country, where forfeiture for crime is not generally recognized.5 A statutory provision, however, suspending the civil rights of one sentenced to life imprisonment, would seem to destroy his power of making a transfer inter vivos.6
The question has arisen in a number of cases in this country whether one who intentionally causes the death of another is entitled to take by descent or devise from the latter. The cases have more generally taken the view that, in such case, the devisee or heir is entitled to take as in any other case, and that a contrary view would involve a forfeiture of property for crime, such as is not recognized in this country.7 These decisions, though no doubt correct in so far as they decide that the legal title to the property of the deceased passes to the murderer, are probably incorrect in that they fail to apply or recognize the principle that a court of equity will intervene to compel one who acquires property by the commission of a wrong to hold it as a trustee ex maleficio for the persons rightfully entitled,8 a view
A. 264, 6 Am. St. Rep. 368, 18 N. E. 148.
5. Avery v. Everett, 110 N. Y. 317, 1 L. R. A. 264, 6 Am. St. Rep. 368, 18 N. E. 148; Rankin's Heirs v. Rankin's Ex'rs, 6 T. B. Mon. (Ky.) 531. See editorial note, 14 Columbia Law Rev. 592.
6. Williams v. Shackleford, 97 Mo. 322, 11 S. W. 222. And see In re Nerac's Estate, 35 Conn. 396, 95 Am. Dec. 211. But see to the contrary Byers v. Sun Savings Bank, 41 Okla. 728, 52 L. R. A. (N. S.) 320, Ann. Cas. 1916 D 222, 139 Pac. 948.
7. Wall v. Pfanschmidt, 265 111. 180, 106 N. E. 785; McAllister v. Pair, 72 Kan. 533, 3 L. R. A. (N. S.) 726, 115 Am. St. Rep. 233, 84 Pac. 112; Eversole v. Eversole, 169 Ky. 793, 185 S. W. 487; Shellenberger v. Ransom, 41. Neb. 631, 25 L. R. A. 564, 59 N. W. 935; Owens v. Owens, 100 N. C. 240, 6 S. E. 794; Deem v. Milliken, 53 Ohio St. 668, 44 N. E. 1134, affirming 6 Ohio Cir. Ct. R. 357; Carpenter's Estate, 170 Pa. St. 203, 29 L. R. A. 145, 50 Am. St. Rep. 765, 32 Atl. 637. 8. As first presented by Professor James Barr Ames, in 36 Am. Law Reg. 225, article reprinted, Lectures on Legal History 310. See also, as favoring this view, editorial notes, 11 which has been approved by the highest court of one state.9 Occasionally one has been held mcompetenl to take under the will of him whose death he has caused on the broad principle that one shall not be allowed to profit by his own crime.10 And in one or two decisions the courts have shown a disposition to distinguish between the case when the death was caused for the purpose of acquiring decedent's property, and the case when that was not the purpose of the crime.11
Columbia Law Rev. 180, 30 Harv. Law Rev. 622, 16 Mich. Law Rev. 561, 64 Univ. of Penn. Law Rev. 307, 27 Yale Law Journ. 964.
9. Ellerson v. Westcott, 148 N. Y. 149, 42 N. E. 540, commenting on Riggs v. Palmer, 115 N. Y. 506, 5 L. R. A. 340, 12 Am. St. Rep. 819, 22 N. E. 188.
10. In the estate of Hall L. R. (1914) Prob. 1; Lundy v. Lundy, 24 Can. Sup. Ct. 650. See also Box v. Lanier, 112 Tenn. 393, 64 L. R. A. 458, 79 S. W. 1042; Perry v. Strawbridge, 209 Mo. 621, 16 L. R. A. (N. S.) 244, 123 Am. St. Rep. 510, 14 Ann. Cas. 92, 108 S. W. 641; and article by J. Chadwick, Esq. in 30 Law Quart. Rev. 211.
11. Gollnik v. Mengel, 112 Minn. 349, 128 N. W. 292; In re Wolf, 88 N. Y. Misc. 433, 150 N. Y. Supp. 738, These cases are cited in an editorial note in 30 Harv. Law Rev. 622, where all the authorities bearing on the general subject appear to be referred to, accompanied by a discriminating discussion.. The English and Canadian courts make no distinction with regard to the purpose of the killing, if it was felonious. Estate of Hall (1914) Prob. 1; Lundy v. Lundy, 24 Can. Sup. Ct. 650.