What sounds like the plot of a BBC murder mystery tragically became reality for the family of Ann Sue Metz in 2009, when her husband killed her and inherited her estate. Though he was convicted and sentenced for the crime, Metz’s husband still assumed ownership or her property — which he proceeded to sell off from his jail cell, leaving Metz’s children next to nothing by which to remember their mother.
To this day, Maryland is one of eight states without a Slayer’s Law — a statute preventing a murderer from financially benefitting from the death of their victim — but the Ann Sue Metz Law pending approval by the General Assembly would change this.
Supported by 25 sponsors, House Bill 1211 was heard before the Maryland House of Delegates two weeks ago (Feb. 27), and its sister Senate Bill 0489 appeared before the Senate this week (Mar. 8).
The bill’s fiscal and policy note explains that the Slayer’s Law disqualifies anyone “who feloniously and intentionally kills, conspires to kill, or procures the killing of a decedent from benefitting from the death of the decedent.” The law would take effect on October 31, 2013.
The Slayer’s Rule, a common law tradition, has been used in the past by judges to determine similar cases (Cook v. Grierson, 380 Md. 502). However, codifying it into a statutory Slayer’s Law would clearly enumerate the law for those judges and potentially speed up the lengthy judicial challenge process.
Metz’s children had challenged their step-father’s right to inherit after the murder but delays in the courts allowed him time to liquidate their mother’s assets for himself. They hope that passage of the Slayer’s Law in their mother’s name will memorialize her legacy in lieu of the tangible heirlooms that were lost.
My friend, the Rev. Henry Green, would say it’s shameful this isn’t already a statute. I probably would agree with him. I’ll let you know when/if the bill passes, which I expect it will.
Until then, good luck and good hunting.
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The Fisher Law Office is known for its experience in estate planning, probate administration, asset protection, and business development. Annapolis attorney Randall D. Fisher has practiced for over 20 years, maintains the highest peer review rating for ethics (AV Preeminent) by Martindale-Hubbell, and is a sucker for long walks on the fairways.