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New York Ruling Closes the “Son of Sam Loophole”

New York’s “Son of Sam” Law, was enacted in 1977 in response to the many monetary offers to David Berkowitz, known as the “Son of Sam” killer, for his story. The law was intended to divert any payments or profits to the victims of any criminal who received profits from a crime.  The “Son of Sam” Law was last amended in 2001, when its scope was broadened significantly.
The latest application of the law involves an incredibly tragic crime.  In 2008, New York mother Leatrice Brewer killed her three young children. Brewer admitted to drowning her children in the bathtub, but said she killed the children, ages one, five, and six, to save them from a voodoo curse.  Brewer pleaded not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect.

Brewer is currently incarcerated in a secure psychiatric hospital.  She is back in the news because of her attempt to collect from her children’s $350,000 estate.  The estate is made up of settlement funds from wrongful death lawsuits filed against the county by the fathers of the murdered children.  Because Brewer was technically found not responsible for the deaths of her children, there was speculation that the “Son of Sam” law may not bar collection.

After a November 6th hearing on the matter, a judge ruled that Brewer is not entitled to any portion of the estate. The judge decided that while Brewer was not criminally responsible for her children’s deaths, she was still morally responsible.  This new rule means that a person found not responsible for a crime because of mental disease or defect can not enjoy financial gain if they are able to recognize their conduct as morally wrong.

Andrea-C-Web-2013Contributed by MH Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney, Andrea Claus.

Morris Hall Can Protect You in Today’s Litigious Society:
We live in a litigious society, where over 1 million lawsuits are filed every year in America alone.  Financial predators are looking for ways to take funds from others and often use litigation as their means to do so.  At Morris Hall we provide your assets and your loved ones with important protections that can prevent financial predators from taking advantage of you.  We do this through proper and current estate planning techniques.  With an MH living trust, we can also protect your property, assets and loved ones from probate, estate taxes, gift taxes, creditors, Medicaid spend-down, conservatorship or guardianship proceedings, ex-spouses and more.  A living trust also keeps your asset and beneficiary information private and secure to avoid giving financial predators information to use against you and your family.  Without a living trust, this information will be made public.  For those living in Arizona, we serve the areas of Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Prescott, Flagstaff, Sedona, Tucson, Sonoita, Arrowhead, Avondale, Goodyear and Tempe.  In New Mexico we serve the areas of Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, Rio Rancho, White Rock, Alamogordo, Truth or Consequences and more.  Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment with an attorney in your area!

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.

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