Can You Benefit from a Will If You Murder your Spouse? The Texas Slayer Rule

Have you ever wondered if someone can inherit from an estate if they kill their spouse? This is what is commonly called the “Slayer Rule”. In this blog post, we will explore the realities of the law in Texas.

What is a will?

In Texas, a will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. This includes things like property, money, and possessions.

Having a will can help to make sure that your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone and that your assets are distributed the way that you want them to be. It can also help to avoid any conflicts or disputes between family members over who gets what.

If you do decide to create a will, be sure to keep it updated as your life changes and circumstances change. And, of course, make sure to keep it in a safe place where it won’t be lost or stolen.

What are the benefits of having a will in Texas?

When it comes to estate planning, many people think that a will is only necessary if you have a large amount of assets. However, even if you don’t have a lot of possessions, having a will in place can provide peace of mind and ensure that your final wishes are carried out.

There are several benefits to having a will in Texas. First, it allows you to designate how your assets will be distributed after your death. This can be especially important if you have young children or want to provide for someone who is not legally able to inherit from you.

Second, a will can help avoid probate court. Probate is the legal process that occurs after someone dies and their assets are distributed according to their will or, if they don’t have one, state law. It can be time-consuming and expensive, so avoiding it altogether can save your loved ones a lot of hassle.

Finally, having a will gives you the opportunity to appoint a guardian for your minor children. If something happens to both parents, the court will appoint a guardian for the children based on the wishes expressed in the will. This ensures that your children will be raised according to your values and beliefs.

What happens if you murder your spouse in Texas?

If you murder your spouse in Texas, you are not eligible to benefit from their will. In fact, Texas law specifically states that if you kill someone in order to inherit their property, you will be disqualified from receiving any benefits from their estate. This includes any life insurance payouts or other financial assets. This is usually called the “Slayer Rule.”

How to create a will in Texas

In Texas, a will must be in writing and signed by the testator (the person who is making the will) in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses must also sign the will.

The court will appoint an executor to carry out the terms of the will. If there is no executor named in the will, the court will select one.

The assets in the estate will be distributed according to the terms of the will. If there are no beneficiaries named in the will, the assets will be distributed according to Texas law.

If you have any questions about creating a will in Texas, it’s best to speak with an experienced attorney.

Texas Case Law: The Slayer Rule of Inheritance

In Texas, if you murder your spouse, you are not entitled to any of their estate. This is true even if you have a will that leaves everything to you. Texas law specifically states that anyone who murders another person is not allowed to benefit from their death in any way. This includes inheriting money or property.

Pritchett v. Henry, 287 S.W.2d 546 (Tex. Civ. App. — Beaumont 1955)

Plea of abatement:

A defense to a pleading that does not contest the issue of the pleading but contends that there is a procedural error that needs to be fixed before proceeding.

Facts and Procedural History

Howard and Clyda Pritchett were the parents of Melba Henry. Melba Henry was the wife of Percy B. Henry. Howard and Clyda filed suit against Percy alleging that Percy murdered Melba in Houston, Texas. They also alleged that at the time she was killed, she had a will that was admitted to probate along with several life insurance policies. Both left Percy to be her beneficiary. They alleged that they were the next of kin to Melba and that Henry’s interests in the life insurance policies should be forfeited and a constructive trust should be made for their benefit from Henry’s inheritance from the will.

Henry answered by plea in abatement stating that Howard and Clyda failed to allege a cause of action upon which judgment can be awarded for all points except those that involved the life insurance policies. The trial court sustained and dismissed all other actions except those involving the life insurance policy. The actions involving the life insurance policies were severed from the other actions. Howard and Clyda perfected their appeal and once again asked for a constructive trust to be made for their benefit.

The court held that if the allegations against Percy are true, a constructive rust will be made. In the state of Texas a wrongdoer cannot benefit from his own wrongdoing. In such a case, anything the wrongdoer would inherit or benefit from a will, will pass to the wrongdoer but will be put in a constructive trust for the benefit of someone else. Therefore, in this case Percy will receive no benefits from murdering Melba and instead will still gain title to her property but will not have access to it. Howard and Clyda being her next of kin will benefit from the trust.

Main Consideration

Can a husband who murders his wife still benefit from his wife’s will?

No. In Texas a wrongdoer cannot benefit from his wrongdoing and a constructive trust will be made for someone else to benefit from.


Pritchett v. Henry shows that a wrongdoer cannot benefit from his own wrongdoing.


If someone murders their spouse, can they still benefit from a will? The answer is no — if you are convicted of killing your spouse, any benefits you would have received from their will are void. So, not only do you have to worry about the legal consequences of your actions, but you also won’t be able to financially benefit from your spouse’s death.

Can you inherit money from someone you murder?

In Texas, if you murder your spouse, you are not entitled to any benefits from their estate. This is because of the “slayer rule”, which is a law that prohibits someone who has killed another person from profiting from their death.

If you are convicted of murdering your spouse, any property that you would have inherited from them will go to their next of kin. Additionally, any life insurance policies or other benefits that would have paid out to you as the beneficiary will be void.

Does a will take precedence over marriage in Texas?

In Texas, marriage does not invalidate a valid preexisting Will.

Does surviving spouse inherit everything in Texas?

In Texas, a surviving spouse does not automatically inherit everything from their deceased spouse. If the deceased spouse had children from a previous marriage, those children would inherit a portion of the estate. The same is true if the deceased spouse had any debts at the time of their death. The surviving spouse would be responsible for paying off those debts from their share of the estate.

When a husband dies what is the wife entitled to in Texas?

In Texas, if a husband dies, his wife is entitled to:

-The homestead and any other property that was jointly owned by the couple

-Half of the husband’s separate property (property that he owned before the marriage or that he inherited during the marriage)

-A life insurance policy payout if the husband named his wife as the beneficiary

-Any retirement benefits that the husband was receiving at the time of his death

What are the inheritance laws in Texas? Intestate succession and Texas Estates Code 201

In Texas, the laws of intestate succession determine who inherits property from a person who dies without a will. If the deceased person is survived by a spouse, the spouse inherits all of the deceased person’s property. If the deceased person is not survived by a spouse, the property passes to the deceased person’s children. If the deceased person is not survived by a spouse or children, the property passes to the deceased person’s parents. If the deceased person is not survived by a spouse, children, or parents, the property passes to the deceased person’s siblings.

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