LEGITIME, civil law. That portion of a parent's estate of which he cannot
disinherit his children, without a legal cause. The civil code of Louisiana
declares that donations inter vivos or mortis causa cannot exceed two-thirds
of the property of the disposer if he leaves at his decease a legitimate
child; one half if he leaves two children; and one-third if he leaves three
or a greater number. Under the name of children are included descendants of
whatever degree they may be; it must be understood that they are only
counted for the child they represent. Civil. Code of Lo. art. 1480.
3. Donation inter vivos or mortis causa, cannot exceed two-thirds of the property if the disposer having no children have a father, mother, or both. Id. art. 1481. Where there are no descendants, and in case of the previous decease of the father and mother, donations inter vivos and mortis causa, may, in general, be made of the whole amount of the property of the disposer. Id. art. 1483. The Code Civil makes nearly similar provisions. Code Civ. L. 3, t. 2, c. 3, s. 1, art. 913 to 919.
4. In Holland, Germany, and Spain, the principles of the Falcidian law, more or less limited, have been generally adopted. Coop. Just. 616.
5. In the United States, other than Louisiana and in England, there is no restriction on the right of bequeathing. But this power of bequeathing did not originally extend to all a man's personal estate; on the contrary, by the common law, as it stood in the reign of Henry II, a man's goods were to be divided into three equal parts, one of which went to his heirs or lineal descendants, another to his wife, and the third was at his own disposal; or if he died without a wife, he might then dispose of one moiety, and the other went to his children; and so e converso if he had no children, the wife was entitled to one moiety, and he might bequeath the other; but if he died without either wife or issue, the whole was at his own disposal. Glanv. 1. 2, c. 6;, Bract. 1. 2, c. 26. The shares of the wife and children were called their reasonable part. 2 Bl. Comm. 491-2. See Death's part; Falcidian law.