Doctrine of Merger
A common-law doctrine under which one thing is absorbed, or merged, into another. In contract law, the doctrine of merger provides that the terms of a prior agreement may be merged into a subsequent final document or legal decree. In copyright law, the doctrine of merger provides that if there are limited ways to express an idea, the idea merges with its expression, and neither is copyrightable. In criminal law, the doctrine of merger will cause lesser-included offenses to be absorbed into the greater offense. In property law, the doctrine of merger will cause the terms of a contract for sale to be merged into the final deed. In trust law, if either a trustee or a beneficiary comes to hold both legal and equitable title to a trust asset, then the doctrine of merger applies and the two titles merge into a fee simple interest, extinguishing the trust. In estate law, a life estate terminates if the estate of the life tenant and the estate of the remainderman or reversioner merge.