A fee estate that was limited to a defined donee and a given class of heirs, exclusive of others, and which reverted to the original donor of the assets, or his heirs, in the event of a failure of the requisite issue. "A conditional fee, at common law, was a fee restrained to some particular inheritor, exclusive of others", 2 Bl Comm 110. The fee was 'conditional' so long as the specified class of heir remained unborn. "At common law estates limited to the heirs of the body of the grantee were called conditional fees, because the condition that, should the grantee die without the heirs, the land would revert to the grantor", Yates vs Yates, 104 Neb 678, 178 NW 262, 265 (1920) (Blume v. Pearcy, 204 SC 409, 29 SE.2 d 673, 674 (1944)). A conditional fee estate may be distinguished from a fee simple estate which, if there is not the requisite issue, passes to the general heirs of the donee. The conditional fee is the precursor of the modern 'estate tail' (or entailed interest as it is now known in English law). In modern English law, the term used for a similar estate is a conditional fee simple.
In the US, the conditional fee estate
or a 'fee conditional', is only recognized now in Iowa, Oregon and South Carolina. In most other states a conditional fee estate, if granted, is automatically exchanged a fee simple or if an estate is granted subject to such a condition it grants no more than a life estate. 'Conditional fee' is used sometimes synonymously with base fee, i.e. a fee that is defeated on the happening of a contingent event or act. (Note: The United states Law Institute's Restatement of Property (St. Paul, MN: 1936), Ch. 4, Introductory Note: Special Note, considers utilize the terms 'base fee', 'conditional fee', 'qualified fee', or 'conditional limitation' undesirable in modern American law, preferring to refer to an estate so created as an estate in fee simple defeasible).
'Conditional fee' may be used also to describe a fee estate that is granted for a particular objective or until a certain event occurs, although fee simple conditional is more commonly used to refer to such an estate.
conditional fee simple (Eng).
An interest in land that is equivalent to a fee simple, but may be cut short if a specified event or condition occurs. A fee simple estate that is defeasible on the occurrence of a condition subsequent. For instance, a grant of land 'to A as a fee simple on condition that he does not become a Doctor of Philosophy' continues unaffected, unless A becomes a Doctor of Philosophy, at which stage it is brought to an end. A conditional fee simple is intended to be enjoyed in the same way as other fee simple, provided that the condition does not occur; a condition that does not form a limitation on the type of estate that is granted, but may interrupt and have the effect of confiscating the estate from the grantee usually in favor, or at the option, of the grantor (or his heirs). A conditional fee simple is created by the use of such words as 'on condition that', 'provided that' or 'but if', as identified from a determinable fee simple, which is created by such words as 'while', 'until', 'during', or 'for as long as' (Mrs. Mary Portington's Case (1613) 10 Co Rep 35b, 41b, 42a, 77 Eng Rep 976). Particularly, a conditional fee simple does not instantly terminate upon the occurring of the conditional event, but must be offered an end by the exercise of a right of re-entry.
Terminologies in bold including conditional fee estate, conditional fee simple and qualified fee are described and revealed in Real Estate Defined Online.
Damien Abbott, B.Sc.,FRICS is the author of the Encyclopedia of Real Estate Defined
. Damien is an expert in providing definitions for Real Estate terms and today's term is Conditional Fee Estate
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