A Massachusetts law complicates the legal proceedings in lawsuits against former NFL football player Aaron Hernandez, after he was found dead in prison, according to the Daily Mail in "Fight for Aaron's millions: The families of Hernandez's victims go to war over his estate (if there's anything left) as Odin Lloyd's mom says the NFL star's suicide was 'another form of justice'."
Hernandez was convicted of murdering three people and was in jail pending an appeal, when he was discovered dead of an apparent suicide.
That puts an end to the criminal cases against him, but he was also facing civil suits from the families of his victims.
It is not known how much money Hernandez had left at the time of his death. Therefore, there might not be anything for the families to get. However, a Massachusetts' legal principle gives them some hope, but also makes their case more difficult.
According to the legal principle, if someone dies while their appeal of a criminal conviction is pending, the conviction is vacated. This is good for the families, because if the conviction is vacated, then the Patriots owe Hernandez's estate $3.5 million from a contract signing bonus.
However, it also makes winning their case more difficult. This is because they would not be able to rely on the fact of the conviction in making their case.
Hernandez passed away with his heirs presumed to be his daughter and possibly his girlfriend.
Reference: Daily Mail (April 19, 2017) "Fight for Aaron's millions: The families of Hernandez's victims go to war over his estate (if there's anything left) as Odin Lloyd's mom says the NFL star's suicide was 'another form of justice'."