Forfeiture Rule Doesn’t Apply To Woman Who Accidentally Killed Husband

74-year-old Sandra Amos has successfully inherited her husband’s estate, contesting her step-daughter’s case for forfeiture after she accidentally killed her husband in a car crash.

Mrs Amos was driving herself and her husband Royston Amos to Canterbury from their home in Wales in January 2019. On the way to the destination Mrs Amos was involved in a road traffic collision which resulted in her driving into the back of a queue of stationary vehicles.

As a result of this collision, Mr Amos suffered traumatic injuries and sadly died in hospital later that day.

Subsequently, Mrs Amos was charged with causing Mr Amos’ death by careless driving. A charge she later pleaded guilty to and received a suspended prison sentence for.

Mrs Amos was due to inherit her husband’s estate, however her step-daughter Beverly Mancini, and two other family members contested this. They felt Mrs Amos should be disqualified from inheriting the estate under the UK Forfeiture Act 1982. This Act prevents someone who has killed another person to benefit from their death.

The UK Forfeiture Act 1982 was initially applied in the courts for murder and manslaughter. Causing death by dangerous driving was a late addition to the statute books.

Those representing Mrs Amos, told the England and Wales High Court, that Mrs Amos had unlawfully killed her husband, but shouldn’t have the forfeiture rule applied as this wasn’t done intentionally or deliberately.

The HHJ Jarman considered the case and decided that not allowing Mrs Amos to have her inheritance would be ‘significantly out of proportion’ to her own fault. He exercised the discretion allowed in s.2 of the UK Forfeiture Act 1982 to modify the rule, allowing Mrs Amos to take her inheritance.

More information about the case can be found via Amos v Mancini, 2020 EWHC 1063 Ch).

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