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The Estate System

This lesson and Basic Future Interests are designed to provide a comprehensive interactive tutorial with a scope corresponding to the usual coverage of estates and elementary future interests in the typical first-year property course. They are designed to be useful either for review or as a "first learning exposure" to the subjects covered. The lessons consist of text screens that are regularly interleaved with questions to stimulate thought and reinforce students' learning as they go. Frequent questions are intended to help maintain interest as well as to help students become familiar with new vocabulary and concepts.

The Estate System presents the possessory estates from the fee simple absolute to tenancies at will. Emphasis is on the various estates’ modern relevance, the typical language of conveyance that creates them, their differentiating characteristics, and the general theory of carving up the fee simple into particular estates and future interests. (Note: The defeasible fee simple estates are covered in Basic Future Interests).

This lesson contains the following units:

  • What is an “Estate in Land”?
  • Carving a Term of Years out of a Fee Simple
  • Classification of Estates (and a bit of history)
  • Carving up the Term of Years
  • Fee Simple Absolute: The “Greatest”
  • Creating a Term of Years: The Statute of Frauds
  • Creating a Fee Simple Absolute
  • The Periodic Tenancies and Tenancy at Will
  • Termination of a Fee Simple Absolute
  • Creating Tenancies at Will
  • Carving up the Fee Simple Absolute
  • Creating Periodic Tenancies
  • Fee Tail
  • Terminating Periodic Tenancies
  • Life Estates
  • Some Questions on Terminating Leasehold Tenancies
  • The Term of Years

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the lesson, the student will be able to:
1. Explain the "estate system."
2. List the basic characteristics of estates in land.
3. Recognize various estates based on the words that create them.
4. Classify the various estates in land.
5. Define Freehold Estates
6. Define a fee simple absolute.
7. Create a fee simple absolute.
8. Create (carve out) subdivisions from a fee simple absolute.
9. Terminate a fee simple absolute.
10. Define fee simple determinable.
11. Define fee simple on condition subsequent.
12. Define fee simple on executory limitation.
13. Define fee tail.
14. Define a life estate.
15. Create a life estate.
16. Define Non-Freehold Estates
17. Define term of years for non-freehold estates.
18. Create a term of years for a non-freehold estate.
19. Create (carve out) subdivisions from a term of years for a non-freehold estate.
20. Define periodic tenancy for non-freehold estates.
21. Create a periodic tenancy for a non-freehold estate.
22. Terminate a periodic tenancy for a non-freehold estates.
23. Define tenancy at will for a non-freehold estate.
24. Create a tenancy at will for a non-freehold estate.

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