12.40 Murder As A Source Of Property Rights


In General

The determination of the devolution of a title to real property as a consequence of the felonious killing of one spouse by the other spouse, or one nonspousal cotenant by another cotenant, or one testator by a devisee, or one decedent by an heir, is outside of the scope of title insurance and within the exclusive domain of the judiciary.

The issuance of any title insurance policy covering property rights that arise as a direct consequence of the felonious killing of the owner of the property must be based exclusively on a final and nonappealable determination of a court of competent jurisdiction. No reliance should be placed on any statutory or constitutional provision or prior case law for the purpose of ascertaining any new vesting of title until (1) the commission of a crime has been judicially determined (no suicide) and (2) the alleged killer has been found guilty by a court of law.

However, in certain cases, and as a consequence of the complete elimination of all possible adversary interests, it may be proper to circumvent the necessity for the judicial intervention and determination. Prior approval must be obtained from the National Legal Department.