Pl. n. [Latin]
Persons who die at the same time or when the order of death is uncertain. Under section 184 of the Law of Property Act 1925, commorientes are presumed (so far as the devolution of their property is concerned) to have died in order of seniority. Thus a bequest by the younger to the elder is treated as having lapsed. However, this rule may be displaced by a contrary intention expressed in a will by use of a survivorship clause. Note also that under the Law Reform (Succession) Act 1995, where an intestate dies after 1 January 1996 a surviving spouse will only take on the intestacy if she or he survives the intestate by 28 days. The commorientes rule does not apply for inheritance tax purposes – the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 s 4(2) provides that where the order of deaths is uncertain it is assumed neither person survived the other.