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The article deals with a specific type of contract that an heir is entitled to conclude—the transfer (or sale) of the rights of succession. As a starting point, the author of the article analyses the formation and further development of the transfer of succession as a whole (hereditas) in the Roman law. Two major proceedings used by Roman lawyers for the purposes of the alienation of hereditas are analysed, one being in iure cessio hereditatis and the second taking the form of emptio venditi hereditatis. The interrelations between this kind of transfer and the recognition of the possibility of the assignment of rights (cessio) under the Roman law are pointed out. The author traces the impact of the principles developed by the Roman law on the legal regulation of the contract in question in modern codification by drawing attention to the French Civil Code and the Civil Code of Quebec. The author states that the legal rules on the sale of the rights of succession contained in the new Lithuanian Civil Code adopted in 2000 have been transposed, to a large extent, from the two abovementioned codes. After analysing the object of this contract, the author concludes that it is the sale of a certain incorporeal property (res incorporales) that is meant by the terms ‘succession’ (hereditas) or the ‘rights of succession’. This feature distinguishes the analysed contract from the ordinary contracts that an heir may conclude for the purposes of the alienation of specific objects making part of the succession. The particularity of the contract of the sale of the rights of succession is observed, first of all, in regard to its object—these are the rights (or succession understood as the universality of rights and debts of the deceased) that are being transferred under this contract as opposed to the specific objects forming the succession. Another particularity consists in the scope of warranties that the seller is normally bound to provide to the buyer under the sale contract. The seller who sells the rights of succession without specifying in detail the property included warrants only his status as an heir. The author claims that such a regulation of this contract in the Lithuanian Civil Code, interpreted in the light of the essence of acceptance, by the heir, of a succession in combination with the abovementioned warranty of a limited scope, allows qualifying the sale of succession rights as a contract characterized by a certain element of risk. The author also provides a critical evaluation of a number of the decisions of the Lithuanian Supreme Court that tend to deny the possibility for an heir to transfer a certain part of his rights of succession.
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