1. introduction: the power of legislature to allocate wealth


Fee simple absolute (Doctrine of Estate in Land)



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1. Fee simple absolute (Doctrine of Estate in Land)

  • own all present and future rights to property (into the indefinite future

  • At common law, there was only 1 way to convey a fee simple = owner had to convey it to a person “and their heirs” in order for it to be valid

    • If you didn’t put the words “and his heirs” it means that the grantee gets a life estate and the original owner keeps the fee simple and has a reversion following the termination of the life estate

    • This has all been changed by statute

    • in modern times, now assume fee simple and don't need words "and his heirs” unless there is something else that indicates it was only meant to be a life estate

  • A grant to a person and his heirs gives the person a fee simple and his heirs nothing, because the grantee can turn around and sell the land

  • The grant to x describes who the grantee is, and the words “to his heirs” are words of limitation which describe what was granted

  • If you die, and have done nothing about the land, it will automatically pass to your heirs and it will continue to descend through the laws of inheritance

  • You can also convey a fee simply absolute to someone else

  • When the fee simple owner conveys the land, he can convey less than the fee simple to a person

i.e. can give a 1 year lease. At the end of the lease the property either goes back to the original owner (reversion) or it can go out to someone else, in which case we might say that the other person has a remainder but more proper to say that person has an “interest in the nature of the remainder”


  • Pennsylvania Statute Ann. Tit. 21 §§ 2 and 3 (1955)

  • Any deed or instrument in writing, containing the words grant or convey will give the grantee a fee simple unless the instrument says the grantee is getting less than a fee simple

  • But if the words grant or convey are not used then grantee only gets a life estate


2. Fee Tail

  • A grant to someone and his heirs of his body. Descends only to heirs which are descended from original grantee (not collateral ones like fee-simple absolute, i.e. brothers)

  • Kinds of fee tail:
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