More of the review problems
8. “Oglethorpe to Alec and his heirs provided the land is used for residential purposes”: Oglethorpe grants Alec a fee simple subject to a condition subsequent. Oglethorpe retains the right of entry.
9. “Oglethorpe to Adele and her heirs. Adele promises that the land will be used for residential purposes”: This language is ambiguous. We could interpret it generously as a fee simple determinable or fee simple subject to a condition subsequent. Or we could interpret it as a gift of an estate in fee simple absolute followed by a promise without consideration. Or we could interpret it as the two sides of a contract. [Braunstein says that Adele has a fee simple absolute, but Oglethorpe may have some contract rights. Adele would also have contract obligations. But there’s some question whether the contract is enforceable.]
10. “Oglethorpe to
11. “Oglethorpe to Ariel for life, then to Brant and his heirs. Brant dies before Ariel. His will devises all of his property to your law school. Ariel then dies”: Oglethorpe grants Ariel a life estate. Brant gets a vested remainder in fee simple absolute. When Brant dies, OSU gets the vested remainder in fee simple absolute. Ariel retains the life estate. When Ariel dies, OSU’s future interest matures into a possessory estate in fee simple absolute. [Oglethorpe retains nothing.]
12. “Oglethorpe to Ava for life. Before
either he for Ava dies, Oglethorpe conveys all of his
13. “Oglethorpe to Alonzo for life. Alonzo dies with a will leaving all of his property to his wife”: Oglethorpe grants Alonzo a life estate. Oglethorpe retains a reversion in fee simple absolute. Upon Alonzo’s death, Oglethorpe regains possession in fee simple absolute. The wife gets nothing.
14. “Oglethorpe to Antonio so long as he remains in
15. “Oglethorpe to Antonio and
his heirs so long as he remains in
16. “Oglethorpe to Abner for life, then to Belinda, then to Charlotte and her
heirs”: Clearly, Oglethorpe grants Abner a life
estate. Then, even though it’s not
explicit like it is with the first life estate, it must be the case that
Oglethorpe grants Belinda a vested remainder for life (if that’s the right way
to say it [it is]). “To Belinda” can’t
be interpreted as a vested remainder in fee simple absolute given what
17. “Oglethorpe to Anya for life, then to Booker and his heirs if Booker survives Anya, but if Booker does not survive Anya, then to Oglethorpe”: Oglethorpe grants Anya a life estate. Booker gets a contingent remainder in fee simple absolute. Oglethorpe gets a reversion in fee simple absolute. [Notice that the words “but if Booker does not survive Anya” don’t seem to have any independent force. If those words were not there, you’d get the same result. But usually when we interpret text, we assume that everything means something. But there really isn’t any better way to interpret this.]
18. “Oglethorpe to Antoinette
and her heirs so long as the land is farmed.
After this conveyance, Oglethorpe transfers all of his property to his
son Bob. Oglethorpe then dies leaving a
will that transfers all of his property to the Humane Society. Oglethorpe is survived by his son Bob and his
Antoinette reads of Oglethorpe’s death in the newspaper and stops
farming. A week later, a troop of Girl
Scouts camping on the land suffers severe but nonfatal injuries due to a
landslide. They want to know who owns
the land so that they can file suit”: Oglethorpe grants Antoinette a fee simple
determinable. Oglethorpe retains the
possibility of reverter. Oglethorpe then
transfers the possibility of reverter to Bob.
Bob still has the possibility of reverter at the time of Oglethorpe’s
death. When Antoinette stops farming,
the property automatically reverts to Bob.
Therefore, Bob owns the land at the time of the landslide. [There’s an issue here! It depends on whether the possibility of
reverter is alienable or not! Before
1960, the possibility of reverter was not alienable inter vivos in
What if I own some land and you want to buy it, but I don’t want any industrial stuff on the land. I make you promise to use the land for residential purposes only. But say you then sell it to some third party. Can that third party build a gas station on that land? The third party is not in privity of contract. One way to handle this is to use some determinable fee. But then the remedy in case of breach is very severe: you lose everything, and all the property will revert to me!
But there are other ways to handle the same issue that we will cover when we do equitable servitudes.
The vested remainder is a property right even though it’s not a possessory right. It can be sold, transferred, or devised in a will.
A deed is effective when it’s delivered. A will has no legal effect so long as the testator is alive.
Maybe there is such a thing as a life estate determinable! Yeah, there is! That’s what Braunstein says. There could even be something like a fee tail determinable. Yikes!
There could also be a lease subject to a condition subsequent! There could be a life estate subject to an executory limitation! All kinds of crazy crap!
“Did you take note of that? I don’t want you coming back to me later and saying ‘you lied twice’.”
No matter what language is used, the property interest that the grantor retains will always be a reversionary interest.
There are three ways to transfer property. You can alienate it, you can devise it, or you can inherit it.
To alienate property means to sell it inter vivos, while you’re alive. To devise property means to dispose of property by will. If you inherit property, it means you die without a will and it goes to your statutory heirs.