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LEGITIME, civil law. That portion of a parent's estate of which he cannot disinherit his children, without a legal cause. The civil code of Louisiana declares that donations inter vivos or mortis causa cannot exceed two-thirds of the property of the disposer if he leaves at his decease a legitimate child; one half if he leaves two children; and one-third if he leaves three or a greater number. Under the name of children are included descendants of whatever degree they may be; it must be understood that they are only counted for the child they represent. Civil. Code of Lo. art. 1480.
     3. Donation inter vivos or mortis causa, cannot exceed two-thirds of the property if the disposer having no children have a father, mother, or both. Id. art. 1481. Where there are no descendants, and in case of the previous decease of the father and mother, donations inter vivos and mortis causa, may, in general, be made of the whole amount of the property of the disposer. Id. art. 1483. The Code Civil makes nearly similar provisions. Code Civ. L. 3, t. 2, c. 3, s. 1, art. 913 to 919.
     4. In Holland, Germany, and Spain, the principles of the Falcidian law, more or less limited, have been generally adopted. Coop. Just. 616.
     5. In the United States, other than Louisiana and in England, there is no restriction on the right of bequeathing. But this power of bequeathing did not originally extend to all a man's personal estate; on the contrary, by the common law, as it stood in the reign of Henry II, a man's goods were to be divided into three equal parts, one of which went to his heirs or lineal descendants, another to his wife, and the third was at his own disposal; or if he died without a wife, he might then dispose of one moiety, and the other went to his children; and so e converso if he had no children, the wife was entitled to one moiety, and he might bequeath the other; but if he died without either wife or issue, the whole was at his own disposal. Glanv. 1. 2, c. 6;, Bract. 1. 2, c. 26. The shares of the wife and children were called their reasonable part. 2 Bl. Comm. 491-2. See Death's part; Falcidian law.

References in periodicals archive ?
The "power to dispose" has become increasingly important over time, especially in the area of forced heirship, where it may significantly affect the rights of a forced heir.
The rules may be a matter of public policy where the naked owner is a forced heir and the usufruct applies to property that is part of his legitime.
126) The forced portion is one-quarter of the estate if the decedent has one forced heir and one-half if he has more than one forced heir, except that an heir's forced portion cannot exceed his intestate portion.
144) An executor named by the testator need not provide security unless required by the testament or compelled by a surviving spouse, forced heir, or creditor.
266) If the decedent leaves descendants, the spouse is entitled to a fractional share of the estate in usufruct corresponding to the fractional share of a descendant forced heir not favored in the extra portion or one-third if only one such forced heir survives the decedent.
A forced heir could lose his inheritance if found unworthy to succeed to a portion of the estate or if the testator disinherits him.
If the recipient may be a forced heir, add "If feasible, this gift should come from the forced/free portion of my estate.
If a forced heir has received lifetime gifts, these are charged against his share, and his entitlement is reduced accordingly.
73) On his death, the rest of his property, the reserved portion (reserve hereditaire) devolves without regard to his wishes upon the persons prescribed by law, the forced heirs.
If the actual estate is sufficient to cover the entitlements of the forced heirs, legacies granted by will may be paid from the excess, and lifetime gifts are safe from claw-back.
For example, if an individual died with an actual estate of ten million francs but in his lifetime had made gifts totalling six million francs, the entitlements of the forced heirs would be calculated by reference to a fictitious estate of sixteen million francs.
Further, the forced heirs could require reduction of the lifetime gifts in inverse order.