Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    The extinction of life; the departure of the soul from the body; defined by physicians as a total stoppage of the circulation of the blood, and a cessation of the animal and vital functions consequent thereon, such as respiration, pulsation, etc. In legal contemplation, it is of two kinds:
    (1) Natural death, i. c., the extinction of life;
    (2) Civil death, which is that change in a person's legal and civil condition which deprives him of civic rights and juridical capacities and qualifications, as natural death extinguishes his natural condition. It follows as a consequence of being attainted of treason or felony, in English law, and anciently of entering a monastery or abjuring the realm. The person in this condition is said to be civiliter mortuus, civilly dead, or dead in law. Baltimore v. Chester, 53 Vt. 319, 38 Am. Rep. 077; Avery v. Everett, 110 N. Y. 317, 18 N. E. 148, 1 In Ih A. 264, 6 Am. St. Rep. 368; In re Donnelly's Estate, 125 Cal. 417, 58 Pac. 61, 73 Am. St Rep. 62; Troup v. Wood, 4 Johns. Ch. (N. Y.) 248; Coffee v. Haynes, 124 Cal. 561, 57 Pac. 482, 71 Am. St Rep. 99. "Natural" death is also used to denote a dcath which occurs by the unassisted operation of natural causes, as distinguished from a "violent" dcath, or one caused or accelerated by the interference of human agency.