dead man’s part.

1. Archaic. By custom in certain places, the portion of a dead man’s estate set aside for mass services; later, that portion set aside as payment for the administrator. ? That portion ranged from one-third (if the deceased had a wife and children) to the entire estate (if the deceased had no wife or children).

¡°If the deceased leaves a widow and children, his substance … is divided into three parts; one of which belongs to the widow, another to the children, and the third to the administrator: if only a widow, or only children, they shall respectively, in either case, take one moiety, and the administrator the other: if neither widow nor child, the administrator shall have the whole. And this portion, or dead man’s part, the administrator was wont to apply to his own use, till the statute I Jac. II. c. 17 declared that the same should be subject to the statute of distributions.¡± 2 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 518 (1766).

¡°If a testator leaves neither wife nor child, he can give away the whole of his movable goods. If the testator leaves wife but no child, or child but no wife, his goods must, after his debts have been paid, be divided into two halves; one of these can be disposed of by his will, it is ¡®the dead’s part,¡¯ the other belongs to the widow, or (as the case may be) to the child or children.¡± 2 Frederick Pollock & Frederic W. Maitland, History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I 349 (2d ed. 1899).

2. Scots law. The part of the movable estate that may be disposed of by will in any way the testator wishes; specif., the part of a dead man’s personal estate not legally reserved for his spouse or children and capable of being bequeathed by will or falling upon intestacy to his next of kin.

¡ª Also termed dead’s part.

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