Fee Simple and Fee Simple Absolute Lawyers

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What Is A Fee Simple?

A fee simple is an interest in property, often land, that has two unique characteristics: 

  1. the property may be possessed infinitely; and
  2. may be inherited by one's heirs. 

A property interest is not a fee simple if either one of these qualities is not present.

What Types Of Fee Simple Exist?

There are two types of fee simple property interests: 

  1. a fee simple defeasible and
  2. a fee simple absolute.

Fee Simple Defeasible

A fee simple defeasible is a fee simple that could end with the violation of a condition.  You might ask, "if the interest could end, then doesn't that mean that one of the two characteristics of a fee simple are not met?" The answer is no because we must assume that the condition will never be violated and the property will be owned indefinitely.

Fee Simple Absolute

A fee simple absolute is what we typically think of when someone "owns" something. Typically, this is the interest in property a person will receive when they either buy land or receive land as a gift. The interest is absolute because the interest will not end on the occurrence of an event or condition. 

The owner of a fee simple absolute has the following rights: 

Traditionally, the words of conveyance required to create a fee simple absolute were "A to B and his heirs." A fee simple absolute, however, is the preferred property interest and Courts will view any conveyance as a fee simple absolute unless there is clear language to the contrary.

Will I Need A Lawyer To Determine The Type Of Estate I Have?

As previously stated, most property interests are conveyed as a fee simple absolute. A reading of the deed should indicate the type of interest owned. If there are no words of conveyance that indicate that a fee tail, life estate, or fee simple defeasible has been conveyed, then the interest is most likely a fee simple absolute. 

If you are uncertain about the language in the deed, then consult an estate or property lawyer to figure out what type of property interest you possess. Furthermore, if you would like to convey property in a particular manner consult an estate or property lawyer to draft the conveyance according to your wishes.

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Last Modified: 04-13-2011 03:28 PM PDT

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