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Commorients ( Latin commorientes , those who die together) are people who die together under circumstances where it cannot be determined who faded before the other, for example in an accident or a natural disaster.


The time sequence in which two persons who have established each other as heirs die can affect the rights of their own heirs in the case of legal succession . The so-called “relative time of death” is of decisive importance for the inheritance sequence. In contrast to the “absolute time of death”, it is not the exact time of death (date, time) that is of interest, but whether the death of one person occurred before or after that of another. In this sense, the time of death of a deceased is related to that of another person.

Legal Regulations


The Roman law regarded all legal relations of a deceased person to be terminated, even if it was considered lost and no body was found. Potential beneficiaries had to initiate proceedings in order to be allowed to enter into the rights of a missing person. In the case of the common death of relatives, simultaneous death was suspected ( regula generalis ), if parents and children had perished together, it was assumed, however, that the parents died before puberes (sexually mature children) but after impuberes ( immature children) ( lex specialis ).

The French Civil Code made similar but much more complicated conjectures.

On the other hand, in German law in Section 11 of the Absence Act it is assumed that several people died at the same time in a common danger. The question of inheritance can become entangled if the commorients belong to different legal systems of inheritance . For the presumption of pre-death in Germany see also inheritance .

In Austria, according to § 11 TEG, the statutory presumption is made if the contrary cannot be proven that several people who have died or who were declared dead died at the same time.

In the Swiss Civil Code , in accordance with Art. 32 Para. 2 ZGB, the simultaneous death of those involved is presumed if it cannot be clearly proven who survived whom or who was previously deceased (“presumption of commons”). As a result of the presumption of commorities, pre-death is excluded. This in turn not only has an impact on inheritance, but also, for example, on insurance benefits.

International private law

In the European Union , some states make presumptions of survival based on the age and gender of the person, while other states regulate the succession of these people without considering the order of death. If the succession of the Kommorients is based on various national laws that contradict each other, the problem is insoluble. The 1989 Hague Convention also established an international substantive rule in this regard, according to which, in such circumstances and in the event of the incompatibility of the applicable laws of inheritance, none of the commons has rights to the estate of the other simultaneously deceased person (s) (Art. 13). According to Art. 32 of the EU Inheritance Law Regulation , in this case none of the deceased is entitled to the estate of the other person if the sequence of their death is uncertain.

Individual evidence

  1. Aldona Rita Jurewicz: Commorientes. Some remarks on the legal institution in the Polish civil law system Clio Themis - Revue électronique d'histoire du droit, accessed on January 17, 2018.
  2. Georg Weißenfels: Two people die at the same time - who becomes an heir? . In: . Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  3. Death Declaration Act 1950, ÖBGBl. No. 23/1951.
  4. Convention of August 1, 1989 on the law applicable to legal succession due to death . In: HCCH , accessed January 17, 2018.
  5. Comparative law study of the inheritance law regulations of international procedural law and international private law of the member states of the European Union . In: German Notary Institute . 2002, p. 241.