20 Iowa L. Rev. 431 (1934-1935)
European Methods for the Liquidation of the Debts of Deceased Persons

handle is hein.journals/ilr20 and id is 453 raw text is: EUROPEAN METHODS FOR THE LIQUIDATION OF THE
DEBTS OF DECEASED PERSONS
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I.
Common Features and Historical Background
T HERE is a fundamental difference between the passing of
a decedent's estate under the Common Law and under the
Civil Law. Under the Common Law, the personal estate of a
deceased person passes to his personal representative whose
principal duty it is to pay the deceased's debts, and, thereupon,
to distribute the residue to those who are entitled thereto under
the deceased's will and testament, or according to the rules of
intestate succession. The title to the estate is vested in the
personal representative (executor or administrator), not in his
own interest but to enable him to fulfill these duties. His posi-
tion is similar to that of a trustee, not to that of an owner in
his own right. The real estate, however, immediately passes to
that person who is finally entitled to keep it, that is, to the
heir-at-law   or the testamentary       devisee. Recent     developments
show a marked tendency toward modifying this bifurcation,
and to vest in the personal representative the title to real prop-
erty, or at least certain powers to administer the real estate
and to use it for the payment of debts, but generally only when
and insofar as the personal assets are not sufficient for that
purpose.
The Civil Law neither knows a personal representative nor
tVisiting Assistant Professor, University of Chicago Law School; formerly
Privaldorent at the University of Berlin, Germany.
I1 use the term Civil Law somewhat reluctantly, since it is apt to indicate that
the various systems of law comprehended by this short term stand in the same
relation to one another as do the laws of the various Common Law jurisdictions.
Such an assumption would be a mistake. The relation between the law of Ger-
many and the law of France, for example, is different from that between the
law of New York and that of New Zealand. But the term offers itself as a short
convenient signification in those cases where common features of the various laws
which were more or less deeply influenced by the Law of Rome, are contrasted
with Common Law peculiarities.

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