Aaron Hernandez is the former New England Patriot who committed suicide last month while imprisoned for murdering a friend. He had only recently been acquitted of the murder of two other individuals and was still appealing his prior murder conviction. Since his suicide, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has vacated his murder conviction because his appeals were still in process. Within hours after his arrest in 2013, the Patriots terminated his contract and did not pay the remaining guaranteed money owed to him.
In his suicide note addressed to his fiancé, Hernandez wrote “you’re rich.” Many reporters have interpreted that to mean that he was thinking not only of what money he still owned but also that she would collect $6 million owed to him by the Patriots under his last contract. Some think that the Patriots would be on the hook if they terminated Hernandez’s contract because he was convicted of murder but was later exonerated due to this peculiarity of Massachusetts law.
A few points on the intersection of two of my favorite topics - probate law and the NFL:
1. Hernandez and the Patriots actually settled his grievance for unpaid guaranteed money under his last contract for $1 million in 2014 likely meaning there is no further money to collect from the Pats.
2. The victims of Hernandez have filed lawsuits against him. Any judgments against him would be paid from his estate probably rendering it insolvent.
3. Unless Hernandez signed a will, his fiancé will not receive any portion of his estate because fiancés are not statutory heirs. His daughter would inherit his estate if he did not leave a will.
4. Drafting a will and thinking about the application of an obscure Massachusetts law involve long term planning and thinking which seem beyond the acuity of a guy seemingly lacking impulse control.
Photo Credit: AP/Elise Amendola
License: Fair Use/Education