Le Mort Saisit Le Vif Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Le Mort Saisit Le Vif is a French phrase meaning “the dead seizes the living.” According to this doctrine the heir is considered as having succeeded to the deceased from the instant of his death. There can be no gap in the possession of a freehold estate in land. The legal title vests immediately in the heirs upon the death of the person through whom they claim title.

The doctrine of le mort saisit le vif requires that there can be no gap in seisin. This is not to say that the doctrine is no narrow as to exclude unknown heirs or absent heirs at the date of death. [Kuchenig v. California Co., 410 F.2d 222, 230 (5th Cir. La. 1969)]