Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Hereditas Jacens Definition:

Latin: an unclaimed estate.

A term of the Roman law which describes an estate which has not been claimed by any beneficiary or administered by any person.

In his 1876 law dictionary, Alexander Burrill defined hereditas jacens as follows:

“A fallen or prostrate inheritance.... An inheritance in abeyance or expectation, lying waiting, as it were, for the heir to take it up.... An inheritance or estate left without any legal owner.”

Under Roman law, an heriditas jacens was nonetheless treated as if it were a legal entity; a person in law, able to contract and settle its debts and incur liabilities. For example, a slave owner might die and while his estate remains unclaimed, damages caused by the fault of the slave would be a liability of the heriditas jacens.

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