Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637| Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Inheritance and Succession, Doctrinal Issues In
Ronald J. Scalise Jr.
The laws of inheritance and succession govern the distribution of property after death and are some of the most widely applicable laws in any society. Although everyone must die, decedents can, within public policy limits, decide how to distribute their property at death by opting into the broad laws of testamentary succession through the drafting of a legal document known as a will or testament. Failure to do so, however, invokes a set of default rules set up by the state and known as laws of intestate succession. Empirical evidence suggests that most people die intestate, that is, without a valid will. The rules of intestacy are derived not from the common law but from Roman civil law principles and the English Statute of Distribution. Intestate laws distribute property to a class of individuals, termed heirs , who ordinarily maintain some blood, adoptive, or marital tie to the deceased. The ...