FEE SIMPLE DETERMINABLE: Real Estate Definition & All You Need To Know


As the definition suggests, such an estate is created by a limitation that creates an estate in fee simple; provides that the estate will expire automatically upon the occurrence of a specified event. Such an estate will be referred to as a fee simple determinable for the purposes of this discussion. Other topics to discuss are fee simple determinable example and fee simple determinable vs. defeasible.

Because the estate is of such a nature that it may last forever and thus is fee simple; this designation appears to be preferable to others that have been suggest and more descriptive of the property interest involve. However, it is determinable because it can terminate automatically if a specified event occurs. Obviously, without knowledge of the fee simple determinable’s characteristics, this definition is of little use.

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The fee simple determinable has all of the characteristics of a fee simple absolute except that;l it is subject to automatic termination upon the occurrence of the event to which it is limited.

What is Fee Simple Determinable

A fee simple determinable interest in land is one that terminates automatically if a specific event occurs. In other words, a fee simple determinable interest is a fee simple interest; that is subject to a restriction that has the potential to terminate the interest. A certain event must occur or not occur in order for the interest to exist or continue to exist.

Fee Simple Subject to Condition Subsequent

The fee simple subject to subsequent conditions is similar to the fee simple determinable. The main distinction is that unlike a fee simple determinable; which terminates automatically if the grantee fails to fulfill the condition; a fee simple subject to a condition subsequent does not terminate automatically if the event or condition occurs. Rather, if the grantor so desires, he or she may reclaim the land. If he or she does not wish to reclaim the land; he or she may simply allow the grantee’s interest to continue. As an example:

  • Fred gives Barney an acre of land as long as the land is used to grow corn. This is a simple determinable fee. If Barney uses the land for anything other than growing corn, it will automatically revert to Fred.
  • Fred bequeaths a plot of land to Barney; but if the land is ever used for purposes other than growing corn Fred retains the right of entry. This is a simple fee subject to a subsequent condition. Fred has the right to reclaim the land if it is used for potato cultivation. However, if Fred does not exercise his right of re-entry, Barney’s ownership of the land remains unchanged.
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To create a fee simple subject to a subsequent condition, use language like “To the Recipient and his heirs, but if (insert event or condition), then the Grantor retains a right to re-enter.”

When such language is used, the recipient receives a fee simple subject to a subsequent condition; while the original owner retains a “right of re-entry.” The Grantor, like the fee simple determinable; can grant the right of re-entry to a third party. If this is done, the third party’s interest is also known as an executory interest for the same reason; that the fee simple determinable is.

The Fee Tail

Under the estate system, there was also a fee interest known as the “fee tail,” which was similar; to a fee simple in that it had the potential to last forever, but it was a smaller interest. The fee tail was a type of interest that allowed a person to have an interest in land in perpetuity; but only for as long as his or her lineal descendants owned it. As an example:

  • Cal, a coal mine owner, wants to give Jack Dawson a coal mine. He is concerned, however, that Jack will sell it to Cal’s competitor. So he can give Jack a “fee tail” interest in the mine so that if it is ever sold to someone who is not one of Jack’s lineal descendants; the mine will automatically revert to Cal (or his descendants).

Remember that with a fee simple absolute, the holder has complete; absolute discretion to give or sell the property to whomever he or she wishes. It should be noted that the fee tail is, for the most part, obsolete. Not only is it never used nowadays, but most states will even refuse to enforce a fee due to the widespread belief; that restrictions on the marketability of property are undesirable. As a result, in most jurisdictions today, the phrase “to the recipient and the heirs of his body” will result in a fee simple determinable.

Fee Simple Determinable Example

The first example of a simple determinable fee is to A for the duration of the property’s use as a museum. A has a simple determinable fee and will hold the land for as long as it is a museum; the grantor has a reverter option.

The second fee simple and determinable example: Fred owns an acre of land. “As long as the land is used to plant corn,” Fred says of the land. This is a simple determinable fee. Barney now owns the property. However, if the land usage is for anything other than growing corn, his ownership will automatically end. If Barney grows corn for ten years and then decides to grow potatoes in the eleventh year; Barney’s ownership of the land will automatically end, and the land will return to Fred. Furthermore, if Barney’s children cease to use the land for corn, ownership will automatically terminate; the land will revert to Fred or Fred’s heirs if Fred is no longer alive. If Barney’s great, great, great-grandchildren use the land for anything other than growing corn; it will return to Fred’s heirs.

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The third fee simple determinable example: John Adams wishes to give his house to his nephew, Sam. However, he is concerned that Sam and his friends will overindulge, and he does not want his house to become a beer party hall. On the other hand, he has no desire to reclaim the house. Instead, if Sam does not have the house, he would like his friend Thomas to have it. So he gives Sam the house and says he’s giving it to Sam; so long as the beer is not consumed on the premises, and then to Thomas. In such a case, Sam has a fee simple determinable interest; whereas Thomas has an executory interest. The above are various fee simple determinable example.

Fee Simple Determinable Estate

A determinable fee simple estate is one that terminates automatically upon the occurrence of a specified event, or the cessation of use for a specified purpose and reverts to the grantor without the need for any entry or other act. When a determinable fee simple estate is created, the grantor retains an interest known as a possibility of reverted; that is both alienable and devisable…

This future interest [determinable fee simple] should be contrasted with a defeasible fee simple estate, which gives rise to a right of entry for a condition broken, i.e., the right of entry for a condition broken retained by the grantor of a fee upon subsequent condition. The conveyed defensible fee simple estate does not automatically terminate when the condition is broken.

Because such a condition operates upon an estate already created and vested, and renders it liable to be defeated; it necessitates an affirmative act of forfeiture. The right of entry is not assignable, devisable, or alienable under common law; but it is inherited by the grantor’s heirs.

Although the distinction between the two types of estates would otherwise be relevant to the resolution of the instant matter; we need not consider whether the Appellant’s argument that the 1925 deed created a determinable fee simple estate is correct. This is because the triggering mechanism that would either automatically terminate or forfeit the estate created by the 1925 deed has been nullified.

Fee Simple Determinable vs Defeasible

Fee simple defeasible vs. fee simple determinable are two of the most common property acquisitions. Before explaining the differences between them and what they mean in terms of mineral rights.

What does it mean to have a fee simple determinable vs. defeasible?

As the name suggests, a fee simple absolute is the absolute highest form of property ownership that one can have. A person owns a property in a fee simple absolute; until he or she transfers it to someone else (through sale, gift, or inheritance). Property owners in this area own both surface and mineral rights, with no restrictions.

A fee simple defeasible, on the other hand; is a type of property ownership in which the assets can be taken away from the owner following the occurrence; (or non-occurrence) of a special event.

To help paint a clearer picture, consider the following fee simple defeasible example; I’ll sell you my property for a fee simple defeasible if you drill an oil well on it within the next five years. If you do not complete the oil well installation within the specified time frame, ownership will revert to me.

Fee Simple Determinable vs Defeasible

As you can see, the distinction between a fee simple defeasible vs. a fee simple determinable is clear. If the previous seller has a conditional interest in the property, the deed is most likely fee simple defeasible. However, for the majority of people, a fee simple absolute is the simplest and most common type of property ownership. All transactions are final in this location; the new owner is free to do whatever they want with the property.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a fee simple subject?

A fee simple estate subject to an executory limitation is an estate that terminates when a specific condition is met and then transfers to a third party. The grantor will not receive the interest. If the condition is met, the grantee loses interest and the third party automatically acquires it.

What is an example of a fee simple?

When you buy a house, you usually do so fee simple. This means you own the property and all rights to use it, and you allow it to develop the land and buildings on it subject to local ordinances. The title deeds are in your name.

What is another name for a fee simple determinable?

The grantor does not even need to go to court with a fee for a simple determinable estate. They, too, have no choice in the matter. Fee simple qualified estate is another name for fee simple determinable.

What is the difference between a fee simple determinable estate and a fee simple condition?

What is the distinction between a fee simple condition subsequent estate and a fee simple determinable estate? In a determinable estate, there is no reversion of ownership. In a subsequent estate, there is no reversion of ownership. Furthermore, in a determinable estate, reversion of ownership is automatic.

What would diminish a fee simple estate?

A fee simple represents absolute ownership of land, allowing the owner to do whatever he or she wants with it. If a fee simple owner dies intestate, the land passes to his or her heirs.

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