Fee Simple Conditional (precursor ) to Fee TailO to Aand the heirs of A’s body.(Words of purchase)(Words of limitation)A gets a life estate. A’s “heirs” do not get anything by the conveyance. When A dies, A’s heir (eldest son B under primogeniture) inherits a life estate. When B dies, B’s eldest son C inherits a life estate. This continues until the death of last lineal descendant of A.
Statute DeDonis Conditionalibus (1285)Prevented the easy destructibility of the fee simple conditional.Replaced fee simple conditionalwith fee tail.Fee (estate)Tail (cut- tailored for a particular purpose)O to Aand the heirs of his body.(Words of purchase) (Words of limitation)“heirs of his body” refers to grantee’s (A) issue or lineal descendants.
Characteristics of a Fee Tail:It is not freely alienable. Interest (estate) is passed from generation to generation becauseit is held in fee tail. It cannot be devised by will. It is inheritable only by grantee’s linealdescendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.). Tenant in fee tail can do nothing to defeat the rights of the tenant’s lineal descendants. The estate ends when the grantee’s last linealdescendant dies. Then the land revertsto grantor or his heirs or to any holder of the remaindernamed in the grant.
Common law: When a conveyance includes the words “and the heirs of his body” this continues as a series of life estates and the owners of the life estate are not allowed to destroy the interest of their heirs. Grantors could design specific fee tails.Ex. O to A and the male heirs of his body.Limits succession to male heirs of A’s bodyO to A and female heirs of his body.Limits succession to female heirs of A’s body.O to A and the heirs of his body by his wife, B.Limits succession to any heir of A’s body and B.
Examples (Assume the common law rules apply).O, owner of Blackacre in fee simple absolute grants Blackacre“to A and the male heirs of his body.” During his life A grants his interest in the land to B, his doctor, who took care of him during his lifetime. A has one son C and one daughter D. After A dies, C and Deach claim Blackacre as their own and attempt to evict B. Who wins?What is the state of title.C wins! O granted A a fee tail (male). A had a life estate that wasinheritable only by his maleheir. A fee tail is not freely alienable. A cannot do anything to defeat his male heir’s right under thefee tail. Thus, A’s grant to B is invalid. D gets nothing becausethe fee tail applied only to male heirs.
O, owner of Blackacre in fee simple absolute, grants Blackacre“to A and the heirs of his body by his wife D.” During his life, A had a son C withhis first wife B. Later, B died. A married D and had a son E and a daughter F. E had a son G. Later A and E die. C, D, F and G claim Blackacre as their own. Whohas an interest in the land? What is the state of title under the common law?
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- Fall '08
- Life estate, Fee simple, Real property law