The young daughter of a man who murdered his mother is entitled to receive the killer’s share of the dead woman’s estate, the Supreme Court of British Columbia court has ruled.
According to the court’s decision, in 2016, Lois Unger died, leaving two sons, Clayton and Logan. In 2018, Clayton pled guilty to second degree murder in relation to her death, and was sentenced to life in prison (he’s eligible for parole in 10 years).
According to the terms of her will, her estate, which was worth about $860,000, was to be divided equally between her sons.
However, since Clayton admitted to killing his mother, he’s not eligible to receive his share of the estate on the basis that criminals can’t profit from their misdeeds.
As a result, the executors of Unger’s estate applied to the court for direction in how to deal with his portion.
Specifically, they asked the court to decide whether Clayton’s share of the estate should go to his brother (Logan), his daughter, who was born 11 days after Unger was killed, or to a couple of charities that were named as alternate beneficiaries under the will.
The Public Guardian and Trustee of British Columbia (PGT) argued that Clayton’s young daughter, Adeline, should inherit his portion of the estate on the basis that this best reflects the original intent of the will, and that, “the will should be read as if Clayton pre-deceased his mother and the child is entitled to Clayton’s share of the residue.”
The court noted that Logan argued that the rule against criminals benefiting from their crimes should extend to those who claim through their estate.
In Unger Estate (Re), released Feb. 7, the court sided with the PGT. However the court ruled that Clayton’s portion of his mother’s estate should pass to his daughter on the basis that she was Clayton’s “alternate beneficiary” under the will, and is entitled to his share.
“Logan was not an alternate beneficiary of Clayton. He was a primary beneficiary of the residue along with Clayton and had no claim against Clayton’s share,” Justice Robert Jenkins wrote.
The court ordered that Clayton’s share of the estate be paid to the PGT and held in trust for Adeline until she’s entitled to receive it under B.C. law.