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BONA VACAN´TIA were the property which a person left at his death without having disposed of it by will and without leaving any heres ab intestato. Such property was open to occupancy ; and so long as the rules of civil law existed by themselves, such occupancy may not have been uncommon, but the bonorum possessio of the praetor, by opening the succession to classes of persons excluded at civil law, was a means of preventing such title by occupancy from arising. It does not appear that the state originally claimed the property of a person who died without heredes. The claim of the state to such property seems to have been first established by the Lex Julia caducaria (Gaius, 2.150; Ulp. 28.7). [BONA CADUCA] The state--that is, in the earlier periods the aerarium, and afterwards the fiscus--did not take such property as heres, although succeeding per universitatem. Being, however, loco heredis, it was bound to pay fideicommissa charged on the estate by the deceased. The fiscus could not make good its claim as against a person who had possessed bona vacantia for four years (praescriptio quadriennii). Certain persons in a privileged position were allowed to claim bona vacantia before the fiscus. Thus, in the case of a soldier dying without heredes, the legion to which he belonged had priority. Various corporate bodies had a like preference in respect to bona caduca of a member of the corporation. (Cod. 10.10; Vangerow, Pandekten, 2.564.)

[G.L] [E.A.W]

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