Definition of Escheat

A reversion of property to the state in consequence of a want of any individual competent to inherit.

Escheat at feudal law was the right of the lord of a fee to re-enter upon the same when it became vacant by the extinction of the blood of the tenant. This extinction might either be per defectum sanguinis or else per delictum tenentis, where the course of descent was broken by the corruption of the blood of the tenant. As a fee might be holden either of the crown or from some inferior lord, the escheat was not always to the crown. The word “escheat”, in this country, merely indicates the preferable right of the state to an estate left vacant, and without there being anyone in existence able to make claim thereto.

That's the definition of Escheat in Black's Law Dictionary 6th Edition. Courtesy of