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in Roman law until A.D. 529, a bequest, all or part of which the heir was directed to transfer to a third person. The obligation to transfer the property was originally informal, but it acquired the force of law during the reign of the emperor Augustus; thereafter, the person on whose behalf the fideicommissum had been made had the right to demand the property through judicial procedure. Fideicommission had advantages over testamentary duty imposed by the legator insofar as it could be imposed on an heir by law and could be established in any form whatsoever, either prior or posterior to the will, in the form of a codicil, letter, or some other expression of intent.
After 529, the only type of fideicommissum to be applied was the “universal” type, by which an heir was obligated to transfer the entire inheritance to a third party.