Sec. 143. Meaning Of Escheat And Forfeiture

An estate was forfeited to the king for various reasons. It is said to escheat when there is no heir. There is no such thing as forfeiture of estate in this country.

Where a person had committed certain crimes he forfeited his estate as a portion of his punishment. In this country we have no such thing as forfeiture of property to the state for punishment for crime, but it remains in the person and he may dispose of it by will and at his death without a will it goes to his heirs. Escheat is a term meant to describe the forfeiture of the title to the King or over-lord where there were no heirs. One might be deprived of heirs by a "corruption of his blood," as it was called, where he had committed a crime or there might be no heirs simply because he died without kin. In this country there is no such thing as corruption of blood and therefore no escheat for that reason, yet of course a man may die without heirs and the law must in that case provide some disposition of his property. In such a case it goes to the state or county.

It is contrary to the policy of the law to take an estate for lack of heirs, unless this becomes necessary. We see in another connection, that there is no failure of heirs until not only those in direct line, but collateral relatives fail.