There was never any question of whether or not a daughter could inherit, but she should never get more than her brother(s). Unlike the Greeks, the Romans never had the concept of an epikleros. If a woman had no brothers on her father’s death, she* simply inherited everything if one of her father died intestate** or made a will in her favor. What type of marriage she had also determined who she inherited from in cases of intestacy, based on whose potestas she came under.
For most of Roman history, until the reign of Hadrian, a woman could not make a will without first contracting a coemptio. Similarly, if a woman died intestate, her nearest male relative got her property. In 178 CE the law changed, giving everything to her freeborn children.*** This law also allowed her to inherit from her children who died intestate. Illegitimate children could receive a share of their mother’s property, but not their father’s. Other laws restricted women’s inheritance rights. Both the Oppian (215 BCE) and Voconian (169 BCE) laws restricted the amount women could inherit. Lawmakers were anxious about the amount of wealth concentrated in female hands since so many men had died in battle.
For all that the ideal was that property spouses brought to a marriage would be held in common, there were some protections on wife’s wealth. Goods made from materials owned by the wife or another belonged to her, no matter who made them or if they were intended for her husband and vice versa. A man who took his wife’s property in anticipation of divorce was liable for removal of property. From 206 CE onwards, the seizure of a wife’s wealth as surety for her husband’s debt was considered violence.
*And her sisters (and her cousins and her aunts. Okay no. I'd apologize but it was right there.)
**Without having made a will
***Slaves and freedpersons were held not to have mothers and therefore could not inherit from them.
Plutarch, Moralia 138a-146a, 2nd century BCE - Diotima (Lefkowitz & Fant)
The Laws of the KIngs, Rome 8th/7th century BCE - Diotima (Lefkowitz & Fant)
The Twelve Tables - Diotima (Lefkowitz & Fant)
Paul, Opinions 4.10 - found in Lefkowitz & Fant, not available online
Justinian, Codex 9.12.1 - found in Lefkowitz & Fant, not available online
Ulpian, Rules 7.2 - found in Lefkowitz & Fant, not available online
Lefkowitz, Mary R. and Maureen B. Fant. Women's Life in Greece and Rome: A source book in translation. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves. New York: Schocken, 1995.