The California Probate Code has a statute that punishes those who commit a felonious killing of another human being. This is known as the California Slayer Statute. When the killing of another is considered a felonious act, the person who commits the felonious murder of another cannot profit from the victim’s estate.

However, if you kill somebody in self-defense or commit justifiable homicide, this would not be considered a felonious killing and the person would be entitled to any gifts left to them under the victim’s estate plan. But if you murder somebody, and it is considered a felonious killing, the Slayer Statute prevents you from receiving any gifts under the victim’s estate plan you would otherwise have been entitled to as a named beneficiary.

Probate Code § 250 says: “(a) A person who feloniously and intentionally kills the decedent is not entitled to any of the following:

(1) Any property, interest, or benefit under a will of the decedent, or a trust created by or for the benefit of the decedent or in which the decedent has an interest, including any general or special power of appointment conferred by the will or trust on the killer and any nomination of the killer as executor, trustee, guardian, or conservator or custodian made by the will or trust.

(2) Any property of the decedent by intestate succession.

The recent case of the Illinois lottery winner, Urooj Kahn brings the Slayer Statute to light. Khan was the holder of a winning lottery ticket worth $425,000. A few days before he was supposed to collect his lottery prize he died. A relative came forward to ask for an inquiry into his death. A toxicology report revealed that Khan’s blood contained lethal amounts of cyanide. It is suspected that Khan had been poisoned and his death is now being investigated as a homicide. In the event a family member who was named as a beneficiary of Khan’s will is found guilty of his murder, that family member would not be entitled to any portion of Khan’s estate (under Illinois’s Slayer Statute which is similar to that of the Slayer Statute in California).