Perfect Property Question: Mother Dies, Baby Is Delivered, Mother Is Revived

June 14th, 2013

I think I found a fact pattern for my next Property 1 exam.

By the time paramedics rushed the 32-year-old to the hospital, doctors could not find a pulse. Her heart had stopped.

Doctors delivered the baby by emergency cesarean section.

Technically, it was a postmortem delivery because Erica’s heart was not beating.

But then something remarkable happened. The doctors turned to Erica, and soon her heart started beating again.

I always tell my student that a living person has no heirs. But, in this case, is the child an heir of a living person? What if there was a property grant that gave Blackacre to the mother’s heirs? Or what if the mother had a life estate, with the remainder to the mother’s heirs? At the moment of the death, the mother would be divested of the property, and the land would go to the heir (even if it was still in vitro, or in the process of delivered). But when the mother comes back to life, I don’t know of any mechanism by which the child’s property interest would be divested. Anyway, this is a goodie for an exam.