The Instigator
NatanielArabov
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The Contender
crossfitbitch
Con (against)
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Riggs v. Palmer: Disallowing inheritance of will

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/28/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 701 times Debate No: 65982
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NatanielArabov

Pro

1.On August 13th, 1880 Francis Palmer, grandfather, created his last will, giving small legacies to his two daughters, Mrs. Riggs and Mrs. Preston (Plaintiffs), and remainder of the estate to his grandson, Elmer Palmer (Defendant). The legacies would be subject to the support and supervision of Susan Palmer. (45.1.1)
2.Francis Palmer was the owner of a farm and trust of the farm was given to Mrs. Bresee, whom Francis married in 1882. (45.1.3)
3.Elmer Palmer lived with his grandfather from the time the will was executed, and had clear knowledge of the provisions at stake. With the knowledge Elmer had, he was afraid that his grandfather would change his mind and revoke the provisions in favor of Elmer"s interests. There was intention made by the grandfather at one point, which furthered anxiety in Elmer"s mind. (45.1.5-6)
4.To get a head start on the benefits of the will and to prevent any potential changes to the will, Elmer decided to poison his grandfather. (45.1.6)
5.The question before the Court today is whether Elmer can take the estate and enjoy the fruits of his crime. (47.1.1)
6.In this probate suit, Defendants allege that the testator is dead and his will was made with fair procedure, admitted to the probate and therefore must have effect, with accordance to the letter of the law in Trusts and Estates. (45.2.1)
7.Moreover, it is the intention of the statute and the lawmakers advancing the statute that the donees in a will should have the property given to them, and that the testators final wishes are legally expressed without absolutely any modification or control of the will by the Courts. (45.2.2-2-4)
8.However, it must be noted, the lawmakers never intended, at the time of passing the statute, that the benefiting party who murders the testator should be privileged to benefit under testators will, so it could not possibly be in the statute. (45.2.5)
9.Lawmakers who pass laws do not always draft up their intentions with perfection, allowing judges to conjecture probable or rational thoughts " rational interpretation. (46.1.4)
10.In essence, no one is entitled to benefit from fraud, or to take advantage and acquire property by committing a convenient crime.
11.The United States functions under a common law system.
12. Under the common law of inheritance, the slayer rule is in effect, which disallows inheritance when the inheriting party commits a murder.
13.Additionally, the slayer rule was corroborated in the case of New York Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Armstrong (1886), where the Court disinherited the slayer because of the public policy principle that a slayer should not profit from his crime.
14.In New York Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Armstrong (1886), the court justified its decision with the following, "It would be a reproach to the jurisprudence of the country if one could recover insurance money payable on the death of the party whose life he had feloniously taken."
15.The same approach has to be taken in our case, because Elmer poisoned his grandfather to receive property from the death of his grandfather.
16.Aside from the language, we find that all laws, and contracts made between two parties, operate on the premise of general and fundamental maxims of the common law system, which can control and effect operation of a will. In other words, no person should have a personal gain from deception, and may not acquire property by his own crime. (46.3.4-5)
17.Maxims described above are detailed by public policy and have their roots in universal law, and are supreme to statutes. (46.3.6)
18.A will that operates by fraud and deception and is against public policy has to be made void.
19.In this case, there was no guarantee that Elmer would survive Francis, as he could"ve died first. Also, Francis Palmer could"ve switched up his will to fit his specific desire. In essence, many different actions could"ve occurred that would"ve negated Elmer"s interests in the estate. By murdering Francis, Elmer established his interest. (46.4.1-2)
20.By committing the crime, Elmer made the will speak and operate in his opportunistic favor. Is he allowed to gain from his act? It is clear that if he had met up with Francis and took his property by force, there would be no title granted, that is clear and cut. (47.1.3-5)
21.To allow Elmer title and access to the estate would be a reproach to the jurisprudence of the state, and as discussed before, a blatant offense to public policy. (47.1.8)

Non-Controversial (Stipulated):
"Elmer Palmer murdered his grandfather in order to gain his grandfather"s estate through an inheritance.
"Wills are subject to trust and estate laws.
"The will was in proper legal form and admitted to probate.

Controversial:
"Should Palmer be entitled to his inheritance after murdering his grandfather?
"Is the court allowed to interfere and revise a person"s will under particular circumstances?

With respect to the first controversial issue, the court has decided that Palmer should not receive his inheritance after he murdered his grandfather. While the defense asserts that the will was fully admitted to probate and is in compliance with the trust law, Palmer can still not inherit his grandfather"s real property. The court, in this case, specifically provided the idea of a universal maxim governing society. All laws and contracts made between two parties, operate on the premise of general and fundamental maxims of the common law system, which can control and effect operation of a will. In other words, no person should have a personal gain from murder or fraud, and may not acquire property by his own crime. Maxims are detailed by public policy and have their roots in universal law, which is adherent by every country, and are supreme to statutes. The court intervened in this matter because society does not compensate individuals for their bad behavior. There was no way the grandfather can change the will because he is now dead and the court is vested the right in place of him. Had the grandfather foreseen this act by his spiteful grandson, there would be a clause in the will dedicated to a case of wrongful death and the specificities behind it. Due to no such hostility, the grandfather was not in a place to act. For all we know, Elmer could"ve looked like the most trusting and respectful person around his grandfather. Creating a provision of wrongful death, however, would cause a slippery slope because members of the family would feel insecure and distrusted. A will is created to represent a sense of trust and unity within a family. It is important to also note that no reasonable grandfather would think of getting murdered by his grandson or family member for that matter. Elmer was also granted the right to live with his grandfather and no facts in the case are indicative of hatred towards one another. By committing the murder, Elmer destroyed the trust in the family and should not be restored inheritance belonging to Plaintiffs.

The slayer rule, in trusts and estates law, has the effect of disqualifying the murderer from receiving property from the estate of the victim. For example, A, the beneficiary of insurance on the life of B, murders B. Is A allowed interest to the insurance? According to New York Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Armstrong (1886), neither the murderer nor anyone claiming under him can recover. The court has concluded that they will not allow a wrongdoer to profit from his crime. "It would be a reproach to the jurisprudence of the country, if one could recover insurance money payable on the death of a party whose life he had feloniously taken." This sets up the direct precedent for the case at hand, whereby Elmer should not receive his inheritance from the will. The court interprets this as to not reward any persons with their crimes. Therefore, under these special circumstances, the court is allowed to use rational interpretation in its approach to modify will.
crossfitbitch

Con

(1.)On August 13, 1880, Francis B. Palmer made his last will and testament, in which he gave small legacies to his two daughters, Mrs. Riggs and Mrs. Preston (the plaintiffs), and the remainder to his grandson, the defendant, Elmer E. Palmer, subject to support of Susan Palmer (defendants mother), with a gift over to the two daughters, subject to the support of Mrs. Palmer, in case Elmer should survive him and die under age, unmarried, and without any issue (45.1.1)
(2.)When the testator made his will, he owned a farm and considerable personal property (45.1.2).
(3.)In March 1882, the testator married his second wife, Mrs.Bresee, with an anti-nuptial contract in which it was agreed that, in lieu of dower and all other and all other claims upon his estate in case she survived him, she should have her support upon his farm during her life, and such support was expressly charged upon the farm (45.1.3).
(4.)Elmer was living with his grandfather from the date the will created till his death, in which Elmer was 16 years old (45.1.4).
(5.)Elmer willfully murdered his grandfather with poison because he knew of the provisions in his favor in the will, and wanted to prevent his grandfather from revoking the provisions since the grandfather manifested intention to do so (45.1.5).
(6.)Elmer now claims the property, and the testator"s daughters are trying to take it away from him (45.1.6).
(7.)The defendants say that since the testator is dead, and that his will was made in due form, it must have effect according to the letter of the law (45.2.1).
(8.)Statutes regulating the making, proof, and effect of wills, and the devolution of property, if literally construed, and if their force an effect can in no way and under no circumstance be controlled or modified, give this property to the murderer (45.2.2).
(9.)"The purpose of those statutes was to allow testators to dispose of their estates to the objects of their bounty at death, and to carry out their final wishes legally we must keep this in mind" (45.2.3).
(10.)The intention of the law-makers was to make sure the donees in a will have what was given to them (45.2.4).
(11.)It is unreasonable to assume that the law-makers could not have rationally interpreted a donee killing a testator to receive their benefits in advance, especially if the donee was aware that the testator was considering revoking their provisions.
(12.)It is only reasonable to believe that a person will do whatever means necessary to keep things in their favor.
(13.)For example, a robber will more than likely kill the person they are robbing if they feel like that person can rat them out to the police.
(14.)If the law-makers wanted to prevent a donee from killing the testator for their benefits in the will, then the law-makers should have established such provision in the statutes.
(15.)To argue that Elmer did not let nature take its course, so there is no guarantee that Palmer would have kept his will the same, giving Elmer the estate, is unconvincing.
(16.)If you argue that Palmer could have changed his mind about giving Elmer his estate, then you can say that there is no guarantee that Palmer would have left small legacies for his two daughters in his will.
(17.)It is morally correct to say that someone who murders someone else should not be rewarded, but the matter here is not one of morality, it is of law.
(18.)The laws we must look at are those involving the revocations of wills since the majority opinion seems to be arguing that Palmer"s intention to revoke Elmer"s provisions in the will is sufficient enough to make the will invalid.
(19.)However, when looking at the law, this is not the case.
(20.)"As Woodwort, Jr., said in Dan v. Brown, 4 Oow.490: "Revocation is an act of the mind, which must be demonstrated by some outward and visible sign of revocation."" (48.3.7).
(21.)Palmer never demonstrated any outward or visible signs of revocation, he only manifested the intention of doing so.
(22.)To assume that the testator would have altered his will had he known of his grandsons murderous intent is invalid because of revocation statutory regulations.
(23.)So, at the time of his death, according to the statutes, his will was valid and should be carried out as is.
(24.)There are two cases that justify why the act of revocation is necessary (48.5.1).
(25.)In Gains v. Gains (1820), it was urged that the testator intended to destroy his will, and was forcibly prevented from doing so by the defendant; but the Kentucky court of appeals found no evidence of that acts of revocation were made, so the mere intention is not a substitute for the act (48.5.2-4).
(26.)In Leaycraft v. Simmons (1854), the court also found that a mere intention to revoke is insufficient even when the testator was being refused his will to make alterations (48.5.5-10).
(27.)If the courts ignore the revocation of wills regulations, then they in effect will be creating a new will for the testator.
(28.)The laws do not warrant this judicial action, and mere presumption as to what the testator would want is not strong enough to sustain it (49.2.3).
(29.)If courts are allowed to make assumptions as to a testators wishes, then wills in general will be pointless since it gives the courts the option to alter them however they feel is right.
(30.)Also, if you take away Elmer"s inheritance from the will, you are imposing additional punishments upon him (49.3.2).
(31.)As stated in People v. Thornton, "we may not enhance the pains, penalties, and forfeitures provided by law for the punishment of crime" (49.3.4).
(32.)Therefore, Elmer should receive the inheritance from the will.

Non-controversial:
Premises 1 through 10 (facts of the case).
Premise 21 " Palmer only demonstrated intent to revoke his will, he never acted on that intent since the will was left unchanged at the time of his death.
Premise 12
Premise 20
Premise 25
Premise 26

Controversial:
Premise 17 " This is an issue of law not morality because this is a matter of statutory interpretation, not what is right or wrong.
Premise 27/28 " Courts should not be creating new wills for testators based off of presumptions because they do not know what the testator would have really wanted. Only a testator knows their best interest and since they created a will before their death giving provisions to certain individuals, then their wishes should be kept.
Premise 16 " You cannot argue that Elmer did not let nature take its course so there is no guarantee that Palmer would have kept the provisions in his favor without arguing the same for the plaintiffs in this case because then you are being hypocritical. If there is no guarantee that one would not have received the provisions given to them, then you must assume the same for the other.
Premise 14 " Although it is impossible to foresee all possible outcomes of a given situation, it should have been foreseen that a donee would murder a testator since there is civil law that prohibits one from inheriting property/will from a benefactor whom he/she has murdered.
Premise 30 - Imposing additional punishments on Elmer would be like imposing additional punishments on an arsonist for the death of a firefighter because a negligent driver was driving to close behind the fire truck when the firefighter fell off.

Questions:
If you say the will must be void because there is no say as to what Francis Palmer would have done if he survived, then don"t you have to make the will void for his daughters as well?
Couldn"t it have been rationale interpreted that a donee might murder a testator in order to receive benefits quicker?
Can you give an example of law-makers rationale interpretation for statutes related to this issue?
Debate Round No. 1
NatanielArabov

Pro

Although I do agree with your point on morals and the law, I would have to divert your attention and explain the significance contained in their relationship. Lord Devlin, in Morals and the Criminal Law, explains criminal law is based upon moral principle. In a number of crimes the law functions simply to enforce a moral principle and nothing else. The law, both criminal and civil, is able to speak about morality and immorality. However, it is definitely reasonable to think of their relationship and immediately disprove that thought. The structure of every society is made up both of politics and morals. Take, for example, the institution of marriage. Whether a man should be allowed to take more than one wife is something about which every society has to make up its mind one way or the other. Politics and morals comprise society and ensure its survival. With these two elements understood, society cannot exist without morals. Laws prohibiting crime, like Elmer"s act of murder, are placed in society so that there is a sense of security and moral values in place. When people are secure with proper morals, a more stable and just society is in order. Furthermore, the morals behind such acts tell us that they are unjustified and should not be considered. Aside from the legal language, the judge"s decision in this case was based on a public policy principle, analogous to morals in society. Universal maxims in society dictate that one is not rewarded for his/her crimes. Universal maxims are superior to any statute and are understood to the international community.

You have to look at this on a case-by-case approach. You are right, the court should not interfere and "play daddy" in every circumstance. But in special circumstances, like in the case at hand, the court does not have an option. The court was extremely pressured to act in this case because this would be establishing the first legal precedent of its kind. What will future courts say and how will they follow this justification? Since there will be a record in place of the standard used by the court, then future courts will have no trouble following. The court is working off of revolutionary ideas in international law. They are applying strong reasoning to justify their claims and are all valid.

A will, under trust and estate laws, is like a contract and when things aren"t made explicit in the will, it is a serious problem for the court. If something is not explicit and is ambiguous, the court will alter will and enter new conditions. This is a form of paternalism. The court is allowed to be "daddy-like" and modify wills under special circumstances. We have to draw a line and have to determine how much a Court is looking to go into a person"s decision. This, as Justice Earl points out, is use of rational interpretation by the court. The court is allowed to make certain modifications to a will under special circumstances. Since Elmer murdered his grandfather in a convenient fashion so as to expedite his inheritance, we cannot conclusively agree that Francis thought of this pre-meditated plan before he died. I am not countering the fact that wills are genuine documents. They are, but to an extent. By committing the crime, Elmer made the will speak and operate in his opportunistic favor. Is he allowed to gain from his act? It is clear that if he had met up with Francis and took his property by force, there would be no title granted, that is clear and cut. As the court said in its decision, you cannot benefit from the fruit of your crime. The law simply does not entertain that idea because you are allowing the murderer to think it"s fine and so it will serve opposite to deter crime in the future. People will think it"s fine and will kill to inherit. Lawmakers who pass laws do not always draft up their intentions with perfection, allowing judges to conjecture probable or rational thoughts " rational interpretation. As Rutherford said, "Where we make use of rational interpretation, sometimes we restrain the meaning of the writer so as to take in less, and sometimes we extend or enlarge his meaning so as to take in more than his words express." This construction of the statute by the judges must take into account the intention of the lawmakers at the time of drafting and must hold the case to be within the equity of the statute, because lawmakers could not feasibly set down every case in express and clear terms. To put this into perspective, we look at a statute created in Bologna, where whoever drew blood on the streets would face severe consequences. However, the Courts held it to not apply to the case of a barber who opened a vein in the street. Similarly, it is said that no work is permitted on the Sabbath, but with a rational interpretation of the law, we find that we are not forbidden to do work that are focused on necessity, charity, or kindness on the day. If we believe that the legislative intent in this case accepts and allows the murder of a testator for the sole purpose of benefitting on a will, then that is an irrational interpretation of the law and is wholeheartedly unreasonable. Therefore, the language of the law is not a matter of consideration anymore.
crossfitbitch

Con

You fail to consider what the statutes regarding wills actually say (e.g., revocation). Francis Palmer only manifested intention to revoke Elmer"s provisions in the will, he never acted on them. Yes, he did not act on them because he was murdered by Elmer, but if nature was allowed to take its course, there is no saying that Francis Palmer would not have changed his mind to not revoke the provisions in favor of Elmer. Therefore, there is no saying what Palmer would have done and for the court to make a presumption on that is wrong and not in their judicial action. Courts should not be allowed to have a paternalism over wills. Wills are not a contract between the testator and the government, therefore, a court should not make presumptions as to who can and cannot receive benefits that are rightfully theirs. Besides, it is not in their duties to do so.
You also bring up the issue that one should not be punished for a crime that they commit. I agree that one should not be rewarded for a crime they commit, but Elmer is not being rewarded for anything. He did not win anything by killing his grandfather. For starters, he will be in prison for his crime, which is a punishment not a reward. I do not see the will as a reward, I see it as his rightful possession. If he did not commit the murder, there is still reason to believe that he would have received his grandfather"s property, had he died before him.
The majority courts opinion is mere speculation about what is morally right. But, there are laws set in place to decide such things. After all, the law is the law. If the law-makers did not want a donee who murdered their benefactor to receive their rightful inheritance, then they should have made that clear in their intentions. Yes, there are certain circumstances that one cannot foresee, but this is not one of them. With such delicate and profitable situations, it should have been foreseen that a donee would try to receive their benefits ahead of time. For example, if a grandfather leaves his total inheritance to his druggy grandson and his grandson ends up getting into some money trouble, couldn"t one reasonably assume that he grandson might consider murdering his grandfather for the money? Drug users, as well as most people, will do whatever it takes to make a profit.
You also mention that wills are subject to trust between the donee and testator. I do not see how this can be relevant as to whether or not a donee who killed the testator should receive their rightful possessions. If the Francis Palmer did not trust his grandson, then he would never have placed him in his will in the first place. This case has nothing to do with trusts between families and the courts have no right in discussing such trust. The only trust that needs to be recognized is between a testator and the courts. A testator trusts the courts and his/her lawyer to carry out their will as stated. If the testator would have changed his mind completely as to what provisions they wanted in the will, then they would act on it. Therefore, if Palmer really intended to change the provisions regarding Elmer, then he would have actually acted. Revocation needs to be acted on, not just thought of in order to alter a will. A court should not have the power to make assumptions regarding a testator"s wishes.
What is the point of a testator making wills beforehand, if a court can just come in and modify it or make presumptions about it? Why should a court be allowed to act with paternalism over issues that do not concern them?
If it is so rationale for a court to rule that a murderer should not receive their benefits in a will, then why was it not rationale for law-makers to include such provisions in the statutes beforehand?
This is not a matter of conscience, it is a matter of law. Yes, if this was a matter of conscience, then it can easily be agreed that Elmer should not receive the property in his grandfather"s will. But, this is a matter of law, and the law only talks about revocations. So, since Palmer never revoked his will, then the will should be carried out with the way he wished for it to be.
Debate Round No. 2
NatanielArabov

Pro

I would like to flip the first paragraph on you and ask you, what if the murderer, Elmer, would not survive Francis and would"ve died before him? There was no certainty that Francis would not disinherit Elmer from his will and Elmer wouldn"t have this property if nature took its course. Elmer took matters into his own hands and turned all uncertainty into reality. Just before the murder he was not an inheritor, and there was absolutely no certainty that he would ever be, based on the mentioned facts. So, how is he allowed to privilege off of his crime?

With respect to your second paragraph, we are looking at Elmer"s reward with respect to the estate. Had the court not intervened, Elmer would"ve stepped away from the murder and benefited from the fruit of his crime. You consider that acceptable? Of course he wouldn"t be rewarded, the 16-year-old delinquent just killed someone. We are considered this reward with the property at stake for Elmer. He is a delusional young kid that wanted something fast, just like every other young teen that wants their stuff fast and cheap. Elmer did, and I repeat did, have clear intentions of killing his grandfather, so this whole argument on "If he did not commit the murder, there is still reason to believe that he would have received his grandfather"s property, had he died before him" Should be dismissed. Elmer wouldn"t have died before his grandfather because Elmer knew of the provisions made in his favor. In addition, his grandfather had intention of revoking the provision, which may have scared Elmer. Therefore, Elmer decided to kill him and obtain speedy enjoyment and immediate possession of the property. By granting Elmer the inheritance after the murder, you are allowing a murder + reward. Despite being convicted, he got what he intended to get and when he gets out he will be enjoying the benefits. You may argue that Palmer is being punished further by not being granted his inheritance. That should immediately be dismissed. The court is essentially taking away something that was never in the possession of the defendant. It is not an additional punishment if the defendant does not get what is intended to him.

It is the full right of the courts to act. What we are doing in this case is trying to serve justice and establish a precedent. The facts are clear, a grandson murdered his grandfather to operate a will and make it speak in his opportunistic favor. If we allow Elmer to profit from his behavior, then what are we showing to the world? Will this be considered the new norm, to kill and still be secure with the entitlements of a will? This is exactly why the Court is putting its foot down and reasoning all of this through the tenets of universal maxims! The founding fathers of our constitution intended for the courts to use judicial review in determining a case. This is their role in society, their job. They are required to take a case and determine whether something is constitutional or not. Similarly, in our case, the court is looking to determine if an act committed is allowed under the common law system of inheritance, i.e. slayer rule. If they don"t step in, then who will deter this from ever occurring again? There was no existing law at the time of the case, as everything was silent on this issue. This was the first time a case like this was brought up. Legal Philosopher Ronald Dworkin, in The Concept of Law, explains the legal process and shows how Riggs is pure example of it. There are decisions, like Riggs, that occupy the uncertainty of legal rules, where the direction of the legal rule is unclear. In these cases, judges must decide which of the possible applications of the legal rules are best social policy and then apply the rule, which is best.

You mention laws and, in explaining your thoughts, you claim that there are "laws set in place to decide such things." In essence, what you are claiming is that there are no laws in the majority or dissenting opinions. In Taking Rights Seriously, Dworkin proves that principles are also a component of law. These principles are sufficient to modify statute. Legal principles are used in the majority and dissenting opinions, "one cannot benefit from one's own wrongdoing" in the case of the majority and "one should not be punished beyond the ways specified in the statute" in the case of the dissent. Therefore, it is apparent that these legal principles are transferable to laws. They are cemented in jurisdiction, as well as laws.

You have to understand that if the court were to look at every case, it would be overwhelmed and congested. The court does not seek to do this. This would take a lot of time, effort and money. Just like regular human beings, the courts want to prevent this. It would be too much to have the court intervene each time a will is problematic. Our personal liberties would also be contested when our wills are constantly subject to the judgment of the court. When a will is problematic, the court must be able to address it and decide how best to serve it justice. That is the role of the court, and when I say paternalism, I mean it in the strictest sense. The court is not looking to corroborate or assume certain facts. What the court is aiming at is whether Francis was prepared for his grandson"s deceitful behavior. He was not expecting this at all. This is unfairness in its greatest degree. Just like with unconscionability, you cannot determine or foresee what is unfair. The courts define that and provide standard of unfairness. Similarly, in our case, a will does not contain issues of unfairness and what is to occur in those specific tragic life events. We leave this up to the judge to assess, and to look at the facts of the case with respect to the construction. The court is filling in the role of Francis, by assuming what Francis would have done if he knew about and would have prepared for his grandson"s cruel intentions.
crossfitbitch

Con

I understand that morals and law go hand-in-hand but this case is not about morals, it is about the law and what the law-makers intended when they created statutes regarding wills. But, if you want to talk about morals then can"t you say that it would be immoral to not grant Francis Palmer"s last wish and carry out his will as stated? How is it morally correct for the court to intervene where they should not? For example, it would be as if politics got involved in religion and decided to become "daddy-like" figures in an issue they did not belong, nor had authority to govern. In no way am I condoning what Elmer did, but it is not right for a court to take away property that is rightfully his. If universal maxims are superior to any statute, then why is that statute in place? Why is the statute not changed to reflect these universal maxims? Universal maxims and statutes should be the same if there is going to be a significant relationships between morals and the law.
But, as I say again this is not an issue of morals, it is an issue of the law and how it should be interpreted. Yes, we have to look at this, and every case at a case-by-case basis, but who is to say that the way this court handles this case is correct? More than correct, is it justice? For a court to make this case the first precedent of its kind that does not mean justice is being upheld. Injustice is being done to Elmer, just so the court can make up for their mistakes in the past. This could have all been avoided if the law-makers would have just wrote what they intended. How is it fair to assume that they intended something that they did not write down? There are multiple interpretations that can be made about any said law, so how can we determine which is correct?
If I am not mistaken, you are trying to say that wills need to explicitly say everything. For example, there should be a provision stating that if a donee murders the testator, then that donee is not privileged to the provisions left to them. But, to make a testator have to explicitly state such provisions would just be wrong and unnecessary. A testator should not be held responsible to write down those in their will who they might believe will kill them for many reasons. For one, it is not rationale for people to think that their family members will murder them for money because that is not how our moral society works. This issue should have been handled by law-makers in the past. It is not convincing to say that law-makers could not have intended to let donee"s who murdered their benefactors to obtain their inheritance. It is just irrational for law-makers to not foresee such possibilities.
It is understandable that a court needed to step in to settle this conflict, but they overstepped their boundaries when they rewarded the plaintiff"s with Francis Palmer"s entire will. Francis Palmer only left a small legacy to his daughters, if he wanted to give them more he would have explicitly stated such in his will. So, who is the court to rewrite Palmer"s will and give his daughters his property as well? That was not Palmer"s wish, nor should the court be allowed to grant such. How is it fair or justifiable to give Palmer"s daughters everything? The majority opinion stated themselves that nature could not take its course so there is no say as to how Palmer would have handled his will if he was to live longer. So, how can you assume that Palmer would have left everything to his daughters if not Elmer? That is just hypocritical to say Elmer cannot get it because that may not have been Palmer"s wish, but it is okay to assume he wanted his property handed to his two daughters. That argument is just unconvincing and creates a double standard, which are immoral.
You should not look at this as Elmer is being rewarded for his crime, because he is not. He is just being given what could have eventually been his regardless. The most rationale assumption that a court should be allowed to make regarding this situation is that Palmer would have revoked the provisions in Elmer"s favor if he really wanted to. But, Palmer never acted on any revocations. And like Woodworth Jr., said in Dan v. Brown: "Revocation is an act of the mind, which must be demonstrated by some outward and visible sign of revocation" (48.3.7). It is injustice to prohibit Elmer from receiving his rightful property just because Palmer failed to act on his intentions.
Debate Round No. 3
NatanielArabov

Pro

1.On August 13th, 1880 Francis Palmer, grandfather, created his last will, giving small legacies to his two daughters, Mrs. Riggs and Mrs. Preston (Plaintiffs), and remainder of the estate to his grandson, Elmer Palmer (Defendant). The legacies would be subject to the support and supervision of Susan Palmer. (45.1.1)
2.Elmer Palmer lived with his grandfather from the time the will was executed, and had clear knowledge of the provisions at stake. With the knowledge Elmer had, he was afraid that his grandfather would change his mind and revoke the provisions in favor of Elmer"s interests. There was intention made by the grandfather at one point, which furthered anxiety in Elmer"s mind. (45.1.5-6)
3.To get a head start on the benefits of the will and to prevent any potential changes to the will, Elmer decided to poison his grandfather. (45.1.6)
4.The question before the Court today is whether Elmer can take the estate and enjoy the fruits of his crime. (47.1.1)
5.In this probate suit, Defendants allege that the testator is dead and his will was made with fair procedure, admitted to the probate and therefore must have effect, with accordance to the letter of the law in Trusts and Estates. (45.2.1)
6.Moreover, it is the intention of the statute and the lawmakers advancing the statute that the donees in a will should have the property given to them, and that the testators final wishes are legally expressed without absolutely any modification or control of the will by the Courts. (45.2.2-2-4)
7.However, it must be noted, the lawmakers never intended, at the time of passing the statute, that the benefiting party who murders the testator should be privileged to benefit under testators will, so it could not possibly be in the statute. (45.2.5)
8.Lawmakers who pass laws do not always draft up their intentions with perfection, allowing judges to conjecture probable or rational thoughts " rational interpretation. (46.1.4)
9.In essence, no one is entitled to benefit from fraud, or to take advantage and acquire property by committing a convenient crime.
10.The United States functions under a common law system.
11. Under the common law of inheritance, the slayer rule is in effect, which disallows inheritance when the inheriting party commits a murder.
12.Additionally, the slayer rule was corroborated in the case of New York Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Armstrong (1886), where the Court disinherited the slayer because of the public policy principle that a slayer should not profit from his crime.
13.In New York Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Armstrong (1886), the court justified its decision with the following, "It would be a reproach to the jurisprudence of the country if one could recover insurance money payable on the death of the party whose life he had feloniously taken."
14.The same approach has to be taken in our case, because Elmer poisoned his grandfather to receive property from the death of his grandfather.
15.Aside from the language, we find that all laws, and contracts made between two parties, operate on the premise of general and fundamental maxims of the common law system, which can control and effect operation of a will. In other words, no person should have a personal gain from deception, and may not acquire property by his own crime. (46.3.4-5)
16.Maxims described above are detailed by public policy and have their roots in universal law, and are supreme to statutes. (46.3.6)
17.A will that operates by fraud and deception and is against public policy has to be made void.
18.In this case, there was no guarantee that Elmer would survive Francis, as he could"ve died first. Also, Francis Palmer could"ve switched up his will to fit his specific desire. In essence, many different actions could"ve occurred that would"ve negated Elmer"s interests in the estate. By murdering Francis, Elmer established his interest. (46.4.1-2)
19.By committing the crime, Elmer made the will speak and operate in his opportunistic favor. Is he allowed to gain from his act? It is clear that if he had met up with Francis and took his property by force there would be no title granted, that is clear and cut. (47.1.3-5)
20.To allow Elmer title and access to the estate would be a reproach to the jurisprudence of the state, and as discussed before, a blatant offense to public policy. (47.1.8)

On August 13, 1880, Francis Palmer made his last will and testament that would benefit Elmer Palmer, the grandson, should he survive Francis Palmer. The grandson, Elmer Palmer knew of such provisions and proceeds to conveniently murder his grandfather to rush his inheritance from his grandfather"s will. As explained, A will, under trust and estate laws, is like a contract and when things aren"t made explicit in the will, it is a serious problem for the court. A will is a form of contract binding all parties involved. Contracts are declared unconscionable under certain situations of unfairness, where two individuals are assumed to be responsible. The courts under certain conditions can change certain provisions in a will, by method of rational interpretation. Through rational interpretation, the court found that the grandfather was unprepared for Palmers devious intentions and would not have rewarded Palmer for his murder. Under the common law of inheritance, the slayer rule is in effect, which disallows inheritance when the inheriting party commits a murder. Therefore, Palmer should not receive the inheritance appurtenant to the will.

In this debate, I believe I have presented overwhelming evidence as to why my argument should stand and have more weight. In response to your example on government interfering with religion, that should quickly be discounted because the government, as pronounced by Thomas Jefferson"s Wall of Separation, is not allowed to infringe on our religion. That is clearly spelled it in the 1st Amendment pertaining to our freedom of religion. The government is not allowed to create a national religion (establishment clause), nor is it allowed to infringe on the free exercise of individuals" religion (free exercise clause).

With regard to your thought on morals and the law, I agree with you and believe that morals have no right or wrong but when it comes to public morality the line should be drawn and identified. Public morality concerns you and the broader society as a whole, and so we can safely say that murder is wrong. Public morality is a justified idea in society. What makes a society of any sort is community of ideas not only political ideas but also ideas about the way its members should behave and govern their lives; these latter ideas are its morals. This idea by Lord Devlin may have influenced Justice Earl in his decision, even though it may have played a small role in the decision. The court can assume that granting Palmer his inheritance is immoral. You should not be rewarding someone for an act of murder, which is simply wrong.
crossfitbitch

Con

(1.)On August 13, 1880, Francis B. Palmer made his last will and testament, in which he gave small legacies to his two daughters, Mrs. Riggs and Mrs. Preston (the plaintiffs), and the remainder to his grandson, the defendant, Elmer E. Palmer, subject to support of Susan Palmer (defendants mother), with a gift over to the two daughters, subject to the support of Mrs. Palmer, in case Elmer should survive him and die under age, unmarried, and without any issue (45.1.1)
(2.)When the testator made his will, he owned a farm and considerable personal property (45.1.2).
(3.)In March 1882, the testator married his second wife, Mrs.Bresee, with an anti-nuptial contract in which it was agreed that, in lieu of dower and all other and all other claims upon his estate in case she survived him, she should have her support upon his farm during her life, and such support was expressly charged upon the farm (45.1.3).
(4.)Elmer was living with his grandfather from the date the will created till his death, in which Elmer was 16 years old (45.1.4).
(5.)Elmer willfully murdered his grandfather with poison because he knew of the provisions in his favor in the will, and wanted to prevent his grandfather from revoking the provisions since the grandfather manifested intention to do so (45.1.5).
(6.)Elmer now claims the property, and the testator"s daughters are trying to take it away from him (45.1.6).
(7.)The defendants say that since the testator is dead, and that his will was made in due form, it must have effect according to the letter of the law (45.2.1).
(8.)Statutes regulating the making, proof, and effect of wills, and the devolution of property, if literally construed, and if their force an effect can in no way and under no circumstance be controlled or modified, give this property to the murderer (45.2.2).
(9.)"The purpose of those statutes was to allow testators to dispose of their estates to the objects of their bounty at death, and to carry out their final wishes legally we must keep this in mind" (45.2.3).
(10.)The intention of the law-makers was to make sure the donees in a will have what was given to them (45.2.4).
(11.)It is unreasonable to assume that the law-makers could not have rationally interpreted a donee killing a testator to receive their benefits in advance, especially if the donee was aware that the testator was considering revoking their provisions.
(12.)It is only reasonable to believe that a person will do whatever means necessary to keep things in their favor.
(13.)If the law-makers wanted to prevent a donee from killing the testator for their benefits in the will, then the law-makers should have established such provision in the statutes.
(14.)Law-makers and their intentions do not have to be perfect, but that does not mean they couldn"t have used the appropriate rationale to realize that a donee might murder their benefactor to activate their provisions of a will.
(15.)To argue that Elmer did not let nature take its course, so there is no guarantee that Palmer would have kept his will the same, giving Elmer the estate, is unconvincing.
(16.)If you argue that Palmer could have changed his mind about giving Elmer his estate, then you can say that there is no guarantee that Palmer would have left small legacies for his two daughters in his will.
(17.)You are creating a double standard that is not morally correct if you say that Elmer cannot receive the estate but his daughters can keep it.
(18.)It is morally correct to say that someone who murders someone else should not be rewarded, but the matter here is not one of morality, it is of law.
(19.)The laws we must look at are those involving the revocations of wills since the majority opinion seems to be arguing that Palmer"s intention to revoke Elmer"s provisions in the will is sufficient enough to make the will invalid.
(20.)However, when looking at the law, this is not the case.
(21.)"As Woodwort, Jr., said in Dan v. Brown, 4 Oow.490: "Revocation is an act of the mind, which must be demonstrated by some outward and visible sign of revocation."" (48.3.7).
(22.)Palmer never demonstrated any outward or visible signs of revocation, he only manifested the intention of doing so.
(23.)To assume that the testator would have altered his will had he known of his grandsons murderous intent is invalid because of revocation statutory regulations.
(24.)So, at the time of his death, according to the statutes, his will was valid and should be carried out as is.
(25.)If Palmer really wanted to remove Elmer from his will, then he would have.
(26.)There are two cases that justify why the act of revocation is necessary (48.5.1).
(27.)In Gains v. Gains (1820), it was urged that the testator intended to destroy his will, and was forcibly prevented from doing so by the defendant; but the Kentucky court of appeals found no evidence of that acts of revocation were made, so the mere intention is not a substitute for the act (48.5.2-4).
(28.)In Leaycraft v. Simmons (1854), the court also found that a mere intention to revoke is insufficient even when the testator was being refused his will to make alterations (48.5.5-10).
(29.)If the courts ignore the revocation of wills regulations, then they in effect will be creating a new will for the testator.
(30.)The laws do not warrant this judicial action, and mere presumption as to what the testator would want is not strong enough to sustain it (49.2.3).
(31.)If courts are allowed to make assumptions as to a testators wishes, then wills in general will be pointless since it gives the courts the option to alter them however they feel is right.
(32.)If courts are given the power to alter wills, then they are given a paternal effect.
(33.)Allowing courts to act "daddy-like" by creating new wills that they do not have enough evidence to sustain it is not justifiably right.
(34.)Also, if you take away Elmer"s inheritance from the will, you are imposing additional punishments upon him (49.3.2).
(35.)As stated in People v. Thornton, "we may not enhance the pains, penalties, and forfeitures provided by law for the punishment of crime" (49.3.4).
(36.)Elmer is already being punished for committing murder, so we should not punish him further than need be by not allowing him to claim his rightful property.
(37.)Therefore, Elmer should receive the inheritance from the will.
Debate Round No. 4
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