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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In popular usage, an heirloom is something, perhaps an antique or some kind of jewelry, that has been passed down for generations through family members.

The term originated with the historical principle of an heirloom in English law, a chattel which by immemorial usage was regarded as annexed by inheritance to a family estate. Loom originally meant a tool. Such genuine heirlooms were almost unknown by the beginning of the twentieth century.[1]

English legal history

Any owner of a genuine heirloom could dispose of it during his lifetime, but he could not bequeath it by will away from the estate. If he died intestate it went to his heir-at-law, and if he devised the estate it went to the devisee. The word subsequently acquired a secondary meaning, applied to furniture, pictures, etc., vested in trustees to hold on trust for the person for the time being entitled to the possession of a settled house. Such things were more properly called settled chattels.[1] As of 1 January 1997, no further settled land can be created and the remaining pre-existing settlements have a declining importance in English law.[2]

An heirloom in the strict sense was made by family custom, not by settlement. A settled chattel could be sold under the direction of the court, and the money arising under such sale is capital money.[3] The court would only sanction such a sale if it could be shown that it was to the benefit of all parties concerned and if the article proposed to be sold was of unique or historical character. The court had regard to the intention of the settlor and the wishes of the remainder men.[1][4]

References

  1. ^ a b c [Anon.] (1911) "Heirloom", Encyclopaedia Britannica
  2. ^ Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996, s.2
  3. ^ Settled Land Act 1882
  4. ^ Re Hope, Dr Cello v. Hope [1899] 2 Ch. 679

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HEIRLOOM, strictly so called in English law, a chattel ("loom" meaning originally a tool) which by immemorial usage is regarded as annexed by inheritance to a family estate. Any owner of such heirloom may dispose of it during his lifetime, but he cannot bequeath it by will away from the estate. If he dies intestate it goes to his heir-at-law, and if he devises the estate it goes to the devisee. At the present time such heirlooms are almost unknown, and the word has acquired a secondary and popular meaning and is applied to furniture, pictures, &c., vested in trustees to hold on trust for the person for the time being entitled to the possession of a settled house. Such things are more properly called settled chattels. An heirloom in the strict sense is made by family custom, not by settlement. A settled chattel may, under the Settled Land Act 1882, be sold under the direction of the court, and the money arising under such sale is capital money. The court will only sanction such a sale if it be shown that it is to the benefit of all parties concerned; and if the article proposed to be sold is of unique or historical character, it will have regard to the intention of the settlor and the wishes of the remainder men ('Re ' Cetto v Hope, 1899, 2 ch. 679).


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