Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Mobilia Sequuntur Personam, Immobilia Situa Definition:

Latin: movables follow the person, immovables their locality.

Related Terms: Conflict of Laws, Immovable, Real Property, Movable, Situs, Locus Regit Actum

A term of the Roman law in regards to the often perplexing question as to what law applies to an individual who has died but left real property in another country, or has brought with him, from another country, personal property.

Mobilia is the Latin term for movables; and immobilia, Latin for what the common law refers to as real property (but which is, in the civil law, immovable property).

Often abbreviated to mobilia sequuntur personam or, more simply, mobilia sequuntur.

In Blodgett, the United Supreme Court held:

"At common law the maxim mobilia sequuntur personam applied. There has been discussion and criticism of the application and enforcement of that maxim, but it is so fixed in the common law of this country and of England, in so far as it relates to intangible property, including choses in action, without regard to whether they are evidenced in writing or otherwise and whether the papers evidencing the same are found in the state of domicile or elsewhere, and is so fully sustained by cases in this and other courts, that it must be treated as settled in this jurisdiction whether it approve itself to legal philosophic test or not."

In United States Gas Corporation, these words were used by the Louisiana Supreme Court:

"Mobilia sequuntur personam, immobilia situa ... found its way into most legal systems, including the common law, and these courts, in an analogous but much later development, classifying intangible assets and interests in the same category as tangible movables, have, traditionally, under the mobilia maxim, held their situs to be the domicile of the owner of the intangible and usually taxable there, unless there existed a specific law to the contrary. Thus, under this fiction, identification and association in the mind of intangibles with their owners (as in the case of movable tangibles and personalty) gave them, in the law, a situs at the legal domicile of the owner."

Herbert Broom, in reference to moveables (chattels), summarized the maxim as follows:

"The moveable estate of a testator is deemed to accompany him wherever he may reside and become domiciled, so that he acquires the right of disposing of and dealing with it according to the  law of his domicil."

REFERENCES:

  • Blodgett v. Silberman, 277 U.S. 1 (1928)
  • Broom, Herbert, A Selection of Legal Maxims, 10th Edition (London: Sweet & Maxwell Ltd., 1939), pages 336-337.
  • United Gas Corp. v. Fontenot, 129 So.2d 748 (1961)

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