Testamentary Law and Probate Jurisdiction

R. H. Helmholz

in The Oxford History of the Laws of England

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780198258971
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191681882 | DOI:

Series: The Oxford History of the Laws of England Series ISBN 0-19-961352-4

Testamentary Law and Probate Jurisdiction

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To English men and women of past centuries, the probate jurisdiction held by the church must have seemed the single most important of its legal privileges. The law of testaments and intestate administration reached into the lives (and pockets) of a large percentage of the English population. It touched family relationships and inter vivos transactions only tangentially related to dying. It meant a great deal to the English civilians; it was the most lucrative thing above anything else they did. It was also a necessary part of the nation's legal system. Probate was the last area of jurisdictional competence to disappear from the act books in the 1640s, and after the revival of the spiritual courts in the 1660s, probate was quickly reinstated. Jurisdiction over testaments remained in the hands of the church into the second half of the 19th century, a longevity that has had consequences with which there is still some degree of struggle.

Keywords: probate jurisdiction; legal privileges; inter vivos; spiritual courts; testaments

Chapter.  24693 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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