Escheat

The reversion of personal property or land to the state, or (in feudal law) to a lord, on the owner's dying without legal heirs or for reason of the property being abandoned. Sometimes spelled ascheat or achete.

Sources: 1. Katherine Barber, editor, Canadian Oxford Dictionary, 2d edition (Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2004). 2. Barbara Jean Evans, A to Zax, A Comprehensive Dictionary for Genealogists & Historians, 3d edition (Alexandria, Virginia: Hearthside Press, 1995)