Descent, * Hereditary succession. Descent is the title, whereby a person, upon the death of his ancestor, acquires the estate of the latter, as his heir at law: This manner of acquiring title is directly opposed to that of purchase. (q. v.) 2 Bouv. Inst. n. 1952, et seq.

2. It will be proper to consider, 1. What kind of property descends; and, 2. The general rules of descent.

3. - §1. All real estate, and all freehold of inheritance in land, descend to the heir. And, as being accessory to the land and making a part of the inheritance, fixtures, and emblements, and all things annexed to, or connected with the land, descend with it to the heir. Terms for years, and other estates less than freehold, pass to the executor, and are not subjects of descent. It is a rule at common law that no one can inherit read estate unless he was heir to the person last seised. This does not apply as a general rule in the United States. Vide article Possessio fratris.

4. - §2. The general rules of the law of descent. 1. It is a general rule in the law of inheritance, that if a person owning real estate, dies seised, or as owner, without devising the same, the estate shall descend to his descendants in the direct line of lineal descent, and if there be but one person, then to him or her alone; and if more than one person, and all of equal degree of consanguinity to the ancestor, then the inheritance shall descend to the several persons as tenants in common in equal parts, however remote from the intestate the common degree of consanguinity may be. This rule is in favor of the equal claims of descending line, in the same degree, without distinction of sex, and to the exclusion of all other claimants. The following example will, illustrate it; it consists of three distinct cases: 1. Suppose Paul shall die seised of real estate, leaving two sons and a daughter, in this case the estate would descend to them in equal parts; but suppose, 2. That instead of children, he should leave several grandchildren, two of them the children of his son Peter, and one the son of his son John, these will inherit the estate in equal proportions; or, 3. Instead of children and grandchildren, suppose Paul left ten great grandchildren, one the lineal descendant of his son John, and nine the descendants of his son Peter; these, like the others, would partake equally of the inheritance as tenants in common. According to 'Chancellor Kent, this rule prevails in all the United States, with this variation, that in Vermont the male descendants take double the share of females; and in South Carolina, the widow takes one-third of the estate in fee; and in Georgia, she tales a child's share in fee, if there be any children, and, if none, she then takes in each of those states, a moiety of the estate. In North and South Carolina, the claimant takes in all cases, per stirpes, though standing in the same degree. 4 Kent, Com. 371; Reeves' Law of Desc. passim; Griff. Law Reg., answers to the 6th interr. under the head of each state. In Louisiana the rule is, that in all cases in which representation is admitted, the partition is made by roots; if one root has produced several branches, the subdivision is also made by root in each branch, and the members of the branch take between them by heads. Civil Code, art. 895.

5. - 2. It is also a rule, that if a person dying seised, or as owner of the land, leaves lawful issue of different degrees of consanguinity, the inheritance shall descend to the children and grandchildren ofthe ancestor, if any be living, and to the issue of such children and grandchildren as shall be dead, and so on to the remotest degree, as tenants in common; but such grandchildren and their descendants, shall inherit only such share as their parents respectively would have inherited if living. This rule may be illustrated by the following example: 1. Suppose Peter, the ancestor, had two children; John, dead, (represented in the following diagram by figure 1,) and Maria, living (fig. 2); John had two children, Joseph, living, (fig. 3,) and Charles, dead (fig. 4); Charles had two children, Robert, living, (fig. 5,) and James, dead (fig. 6.); James had two children, both living, Ann, (fig. 7,) and William, (fig. 8.)



* From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 1856 Edition. Please see Bouvier's Legal Abbreviations & Abbreviated References for help with obscure nomenclature & references.

« Definitions Der to Dim

« Legal Dictionary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H
I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P
Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y