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Question
Hello,

I was watching an old Columbo episode and was wondering what would happen in real life. Basically, if someone co-owns a business with his unmarried brother, and then kills him, what happens to that dead brother's half-share of the business when the murderer is caught by the law and there are no other relatives of the deceased?

Also, I am curious:- what sort of crimes bring in the most profit with the least risk of getting caught? I personally have no intention of committing such as I have a fear of prison, it's just that I am wondering if crime really does not pay.
Thanks, Geoff.

Answer
Geoff,

First, it depends on whether the brother dies with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate).  If testate that would control as to the brother's wishes.  I am painting with a broad brush as it varies from state to state, but if he died intestate the brother's half share of the business would go to his lineal descendants first (children) and if not then his parents (which most states favor) and if they cannot take then to his brother(s)/sister(s).  If no known descendant can be found then the estate escheats (transfers) to the state.  With that said most states have a "slayer statute" where the killer cannot inherit from those s/he murders.  So the closest answer to your question is if no blood relative (consanguinity)is found the state will take.

Does crime pay?  It is my opinion that probably selling illegal narcotics has the highest immediate pay out to risk factor.  It is usually short lived due to arrest and/or death.  The smart ones cash out and buy legitimate businesses and/or investments.  Just my $.02.

Jeff  

Criminal Law

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Jeffrey Hauck

Expertise

I would welcome the opportunity to answer questions relating to or related to the field of criminal law.

Experience

Criminologist. Professor of Criminal Justice. Licensed Private Detective with expansive clientele base encompassing hundreds of cases. Donates resources and time to the Children's Rescue Network in Orlando, FL.

Education/Credentials
Associate of Science; Bachelor of Arts; Master of Science, Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree.

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