The first volume in the series Comparative Succession Law, on Testamentary Formalities, was published in 2011. This is the second. Both volumes are part of a long-term programme to explore key topics in the law of succession from a historical and comparative perspective.
In this second volume, we consider the rules which apply where a person dies either without leaving a valid will, or leaving a will which fails to dispose of all of the person’s assets. What, we ask, is the nature of the rules for the disposal of the deceased’s assets? Are they mechanical or is there an element of discretion? Are particular types of property dealt with in particular ways? Is there entitlement to individual assets (as opposed to money)? Do the rules operate a parentelic system or a system of some other kind? Are spouses treated more favourably than children? What provision is made for extra-marital children, for adopted children, for step-children? Does cohabitation give rise to entitlement? How are same-sex couples treated? Do advances of money made during lifetime reduce entitlement on death? Broader questions also arise of a historical and comparative nature. Where, for example, do the rules in intestate succession come from in particular legal systems? Have they been influenced by the rules in other countries? How are the rules explained and how are they justified? To what extent have they changed over time? What are the long-term trends? And, finally, are the rules satisfactory, and is there pressure for their reform?
It has been necessary to be selective as to the jurisdictions covered and, as in the previous volume, the focus is on Europe, and on countries which have been influenced by the European experience. Thus, in addition to giving a detailed treatment of the law in Austria, England and Wales, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, the Nordic countries, Poland, Scotland, and Spain, the book also explores legal developments in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States of America, Quebec, and in the countries of Latin America. A further chapter is devoted to Islamic law. The book opens with a chapter on Roman law and concludes with an assessment of the overall development of the law in the countries surveyed, and with some wider reflections on the nature and purpose of the law of intestate succession.
Kenneth G C Reid, Edinburgh
Marius J de Waal, Stellenbosch
Reinhard Zimmermann, Hamburg