Fee Simple

Fee Simple

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When analyzing different forms of real property ownership, it is essential that one understands the concept of an estate. Defined as a property of land that is usually of substantial size, as well as everything owned by an individual at the time of death to be distributed based on the will, there are numerous ways a court could rule in regard to an estate. It is important to note that assets that are given to someone else by putting a law into effect, such as joint tenancy, do not belong to the estate in question, even if the person maintained rights to that property throughout his or her life. Also, if the deceased had life insurance and suggested a beneficiary, the proceeds of the corresponding policy would not go directly to the estate of the deceased, but instead, to the nominated beneficiary. If a will is constructed before one dies, the estate of the departed is monitored by an executor. In the case of intestacy, however, the estate is presided over by an administrator. Both executors and administrators bear the responsibilities of safeguarding the estates’ assets, paying the debts of the departed as well as dealing with liabilities, and, lastly, allotting the balance in respect to the will, or as stipulated by law.


The most prevalent estate known by law is the fee simple estate, which indicates the highest legal ownership as well as the largest potential aggregate of rights and abilities one may possess in land. Unless the will mentions the departed’s intention of a smaller estate, it is assumed that whoever wrote the will was in favor of conveying an estate in fee simple. There are different types fee simple estates to be taken into consideration. If prior grantors of fee simple estates have not made any conditions for future grantees to own the property passed on, the title is known as fee simple absolute. Further fee simple estates, such as fee simple defeasible estates, are also in existence. When a grantor creates a condition for one of the fee simple estates, the defeasible estate is put into effect. Following an aforementioned event, the estate could possibly become open to annulment or void altogether. There are different types of defensible estates: the fee simple subject to a condition subsequent the fee simple determinable. If the grantor uses language in regard to time, such as “to John Doe as long as the land is utilized for farming,” then when the aforementioned event takes place, the estate will instantly terminate and return to the grantor or the grantor’s estate, a prime example of fee simple determinable. Some states across the country have altered an array of these statutes. During Common Law in the early United States, determinable fee simple estates were preferred by the courts. These days, however, the opposite is prevalent, as the majority of the country’s courts often find fee simple estates liable to condition subsequent in scenarios in which the original document’s language is ambiguous.

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