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Property I
Villanova University School of Law
Sirico, Louis J.

Freehold Estates
1) Fee Simple and Fee Tail:
Life Estate: own land only for your lifetime, upon death, ownership would automatically revert to the grantor- creates a life tenant. “To B for life, then to C” B has a life estate.
Fee Simple Absolute: “To B and his heirs”-creates a fee simple absolute for B. Most common and complete type of ownership of land. Heirs don’t have any estate in the land.
Fee Tail/Estate Tail: (From A to B and the heirs of his body) Not recognized everywhere. Sometimes can deed the property to a third party as a fee simple. This disentailed the estate (destroyed the fee tail). Different from English Common Law where this was not allowed. Passes on a fee simple absolute and in England it could not be sold by person who had a fee tail. Kept land in families.
Lawsuits of Common Recovery: Used by the English to break up fee tails.
Deed Property: transfer property when alive.
Deed: document used to transfer property ownership while you are alive. Selling a house.
Inter Vivos Transfer: a transfer of property when alive.
Devise: Transfer of property by way of a provision in your will.
Testator: Person who transfers/devises property through a will.
Declaratory judgment: The court decides the rights and duties of the plaintiffs and defendants with respect to the land in question, that is, who owns what.
Remainder: A to be for life, after A’s death to C.
B is a lifetenant, C has a future interest called a remainder. C will have a present possessory interest in fee absolute when B dies.
Words of Purchase: “To B and his bodily heirs”- To B are words of purchase, they tell us who is going to get the property.
Words of limitation: “to B and his bodily heirs”- and his bodily heirs are words of limitation because they limit was B gets.
Bauer v. Bauer (1961)
“To George Bauer and his bodily heirs, meaning by bodily heirs the generation of children following George, his children.”
If this creates a fee tail, it can be transferred from George to a third party as a fee simple. However, if it is a life estate he can only transfer it as a life estate.
By explaining who the heirs were, it created a life estate and not a fee simple.
Wright v. Jenks
Wife’s will did not use correct language to create a fee tail. “And to their children of their bodies after them” This is not the same as “to their bodily heirs” or to “the heirs of their bodies”. The court still found that it created a fee tail.

Present Interest

Future Interest
In Grantor

Future Interest
In third person

Free Hold Interests

All Seisin

Fee Simple Absolute



Fee Tail


Vested, Contingent Remainder, or Executory interest

Defeasible Estates
a) Fee Simple determinable

bject to condition subsequent.
Because a defeasible estate always grants less than a full fee simple, a defeasible estate will always create one or more future interests.
Determines: means to terminate.

Summary Judgment: A prompt decision made before trail based on documents litigants submit.

Ø Fee Simple Determinable: is an estate that will end automatically if the condition of the grantor occurs and the interest will revert back to the grantor or the heirs of the grantor. The future interest created with this estate is called a possibility of reverter. Durational language such as, “to A as long as the property is used for a park” creates this type of estate.
-Grantor keeps possibility of reverter. Courts don’t like these estates. IF the language is ambiguous courts will favor a fee simple absolute.

Fee Simple Subject to Condition Subsequent: is created when the words of a grant support the conclusion that the grantor intends to convey a fee simple absolute but has attached a condition to the grant so that if a specified future event happens the grantor will get their fee simple absolute back, provided that the grantor retains a right of entry. The fee simple subject to condition subsequent does not end automatically upon the happening of the condition The future interest is called a “right of reentry” or “right of entry