Streetlamp Lucozade (orange_fell) wrote in little_details,
Streetlamp Lucozade

[ANON POST] Widow's Inheritance in Late Roman Empire

In the Roman Empire, can a widow inherit the entire estate?

In this novel, I have a foreigner (i.e. not a Roman citizen) of means living near Arles, in Gaul (now France). It is 304 AD, just before the accession of Emperor Constantine. He has lots of money and bought an estate, and is now producing olive oil, grapes, and horses in a minor way. (The analogy would be the rich sheik from Saudi Arabia buying a nice condo in New York City, entering somewhat into the activities of the Big Apple but not becoming a citizen.)
Would he be able to write a will, decreeing what he would like done with this estate? (If he has holdings elsewhere I assume they would not be subject to Roman law.)
He would I assume get Roman lawyers and officials to help with this, so that it'll be valid? Do these things get filed with the government in town? Surely they don't do the English-country-house mystery thing and have the document in a safe in the library. Who are these people?
What he (which is to say I, the author) needs to have in this will is, if he is married at the time of his death then all the property/money goes to his wife. If he is NOT married, then all the property, including all the slaves, is to be sold up or liquidated and the funds thus accrued given to some cause or another, probably a temple. Does this sound doable? Would it be a temple?

I have googled around using terms like 'Roman empire inheritance law' and gotten to pages and pages of Latin legal terms that I need a law degree to parse. This may actually not be an answerable question, and if so I am just going to go with it. (If nobody knows, then I can do what I like, right?)
Tags: roman republic & empire, ~inheritance

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