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MORTMAIN

The policy of claiming that land and property could be possessed in perpetuity even after the death of the owner, correctly termed a "dead man's clutch." It was invoked in order to dispute the title of charitable and religious trusts usually to misappropriate them, especially those invested by the Catholic Church. The policy was employed in England on the excuse that it discouraged property use for superstitious purposes.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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