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Duncan v. Vassaur

Law Dictionary

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Property Law Keyed to Cribbet

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill550 P.2d 929 (Okla. 1976)

Brief Fact Summary. Property owned in joint tenancy by husband (Edgar Vassaur Jr.) and wife (Betty Vassaur) was in dispute when wife killed husband.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Under the Oklahoma “slayer statue” the wife could not profit from her killing of Edgar Vassaur Jr., and the joint tenancy was terminated and converted to a tenancy in common.

Facts. Edgar Vassaur Jr. (husband) owned property in fee simple prior to his marriage to Betty Vassaur. Then, Edgar Vassaur Jr. conveyed the property to Edgar Vassaur Jr. and to Betty Vassaur as joint tenants by a warranty deed on June 30, 1969. On August 9, 1971, Betty shot and killed Edgar Vassaur Jr. On September 30, 1971, after being charged with first degree murder for the killing, Betty Vassaur conveyed the property to William Duncan, the Appellee. Edgar Vassaur Sr. is the Appellant and administrator of his son’s estate and claimed ownership of one-half of the property, a lien on the balance in the amount of proceeds of a credit life insurance policy on Edgar Vassaur Jr.’s life, and another lien in the amount of a home improvement loan which had been repaid by the estate. William Duncan had filed an action to quiet title in the property in himself against the estate of Edgar Vassaur Jr. Edgar Vassaur Sr. filed a cross petition in the quiet title action, to which William Duncan
demurred and moved for a judgment of the pleadings. The trial court sustained the demurrer and granted Duncan’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. Edgar Vassaur Sr., for the estate, appealed.

Issue. Does the Oklahoma “slayer statute” apply in this case to terminate the joint tenancy such that Edgar Vassaur Jr.’s estate owns an undivided one-half of the property?
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