Inheritance Contracts & Roman Law

Posted: 12 Jul 2018

See all articles by Aleksander Grebieniow

Aleksander Grebieniow

University of Warsaw / Faculty of Law / Institute for Legal History

Date Written: June 15, 2018


The use of inheritance contracts is one of the most controversial issues about the Roman Law. It is not unanimous to whether the Romans knew them, and if so, whether they have practised disposing of one’s assets in the event of death by means of an agreement. It appears that the question can’t be solved without asking, how should we understand the notion of ‘inheritance contracts’. Are the modern concepts compatible with Roman legal experience being not compatible with each other? There are though certain proofs of ‘a contract-oriented way of thinking’ of the Roman jurists. They indeed prohibited some contract having a succession over a third person for an object but were not using a broader concept of inheritance contract. The present paper is meant as a reconsideration of this topic, with particular focus on the justifiability of the research questions which have been asked until now.

Keywords: pacta divisoria, pacta de hereditate viventis, divisio inter liberos, testamentum parentum inter liberos, inheritance contract, contract on succession

Suggested Citation

Grebieniow, Aleksander, Inheritance Contracts & Roman Law (June 15, 2018). Available at SSRN:

Aleksander Grebieniow (Contact Author)

University of Warsaw / Faculty of Law / Institute for Legal History ( email )

ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28
Warszawa, 00-927

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