~  XLVIII  ~

S. P. Scott, The Civil Law, XVI, Cincinnati, 1932 ).

The Emperor Justinian to John, Praetorian Prefect, Twice Consul and Patrician.
  We have always had the intention of preserving inviolate the dispositions of dying persons unless they were contrary to law, and opposed to the rules which it prescribes. We are informed that when a testator makes a will, by which, in disposing of his estate in favor of his heirs, he swears to what it is composed of, and some of the said heirs refuse to believe the declaration of the deceased (in which they are guilty of injustice, for when acting as heirs of the testator they thereby agree to what he does), and do not wish to confirm what he has stated under oath, and refuse to accept it, notwithstanding Our laws consider an heir and the person who has transferred the estate to him as a single person, as no one can oppose himself, or consider what he has sworn to as not true, he cannot deny his own statements.
  Therefore We order that if anyone should make a list of his property either with his own hand, or through the agency of someone else, but signed by him; or should mention in his will the amount of his estate whether some of his heirs are present and others absent, or whether all of them are present, We hereby forbid the said heirs to contradict the statement, and one to accuse the others of having concealed property which was not mentioned by the deceased. Where, however, the dying person has made oath that he has nothing more than he says he has, the heirs, whether they be children or strangers, must accept the statement. We do not wish them to hesitate, to abuse their co-heirs, or, in order to prove their allegations, to demand that the slaves of the deceased be tortured, or to take other measures and make other investigations of this kind, which will lead only to controversy; for if nothing more should be found among the property of the estate than what the testator declared under oath it was composed of, the conclusion will be reached that he desired this amount alone to go to his heirs.
  (1) We desire that the declarations of the deceased as to his property shall be conclusive with reference to the heirs, who are desirous of ascertaining what the estate consists of, but it shall not be conclusive so far as creditors are concerned, because it has been prescribed by Our laws that whatever anyone may say or write for his own advantage will be of no benefit to him, nor will prejudice his creditors to any extent, and they shall be permitted to investigate everything in any way that they choose; but the heirs must remain content with the statements of the testator. The penalty imposed upon the heirs shall be that any one of them who makes a contest on account of the property left to him cannot enjoy it at all, for he will be required to agree to all the dispositions of the testator, or not to accept any of them; and the result of this will be that he must consent to all that the deceased said, and contradict him in nothing if he wishes to enjoy his share of the estate. These provisions shall be valid for all time hereafter, and be applicable not only to cases which have not yet been brought, but also to such as have been terminated by a judicial decision or compromised in an amicable manner.
  Your Eminence, after having learned what it has pleased Us to enact by this Imperial law, will formally communicate it to all Our subjects by a special proclamation.
  Given at Constantinople, on the fifteenth of the Kalends of September, during the second year after the Consulate of Belisarius.