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Encyclopedia > Rule against perpetuities
Property law
Part of the common law series
Acquisition of property
Gift  · Adverse possession  · Deed
Lost, mislaid, and abandoned property
Bailment  · Licence
Estates in land
Allodial title  · Fee simple
Life estate  · Fee tail  · Future interest
Concurrent estate  · Leasehold estate
Conveyancing of interests in land
Bona fide purchaser  · Torrens title
Estoppel by deed  · Quitclaim deed
Mortgage  · Equitable conversion
Action to quiet title
Limiting control over future use
Restraint on alienation
Rule against perpetuities
Rule in Shelley's Case
Doctrine of worthier title
Nonpossessory interest in land
Easement  · Profit
Covenant running with the land
Equitable servitude
Related topics
Fixtures  · Waste  · Partition
Riparian water rights
Lateral and subjacent support
Assignment  · Nemo dat
Other areas of the common law
Contract law  · Tort law
Wills and trusts
Criminal Law  · Evidence

The rule against perpetuities is a rule in property law which prohibits a contingent grant or will from vesting outside a certain period of time. If there is a possibility of the estate vesting outside of the period, regardless how remote, the whole interest is void, and is stricken from a grant. The rule is concerned with the utility of property and tries to prevent people from tying up assets for too long a period of time—a concept often referred to as control by the "dead hand." That is, the purpose is to "limit the testator's power to earmark gifts for remote descendants."1 Some argue that the rule also prevents the concentration of wealth in society. Image File history File links Scale_of_justice. ... Property law is the area of law that governs the various forms of ownership in real property (land as distinct from personal or movable possessions) and in personal property, within the common law legal system. ... This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... A gift, in the law of property, has a very specific meaning. ... In common law real estate law, adverse possession is a means of acquiring title to anothers real property without compensation, by, as the name suggests, holding the property in a manner that conflicts with the true owners rights. ... A deed is a legal instrument used to grant a right. ... In the common law of property, personal belongings that have left the possession of their rightful owners without having directly entered the possession of another person are deemed to be lost, mislaid, or abandoned, depending on the circumstances under which they were found by the next party to come into... Bailment describes a legal relationship where physical possession of personal property (chattels) is transferred from one person (the bailor) to another person (the bailee) who subsequently holds possession of the property. ... A license or licence is a document or agreement giving permission to do something. ... Estate is a term used in the common law. ... Allodial title is a concept in some systems of property law. ... Fee simple, also known as fee simple absolute or allodial, is a term of art in common law. ... A life estate, at common law is an estate in real property that ends at death. ... Fee tail is an obsolescent term of art in common law. ... In property law and real estate, a future interest - is an interest that accompanies a defeasible estate. ... A concurrent estate or co-tenancy is a concept in property law, particularly derived from the common law of real property, which describes the various ways in which property can be owned by more than one person at a given time. ... A leasehold estate is an ownership interest in land in which a lessee or a tenant holds real property by some form of title from a lessor or landlord. ... Conveyancing is the act of transferring the ownership of a property from one person to another. ... A bona fide purchaser (or BFP), in the law of real property, is a person who purchases land for value, without notice of any other partys claim to the title to that land. ... Torrens title is a system of land title where a register of land holdings maintained by the state guarantees indefeasible title to those included in the register. ... Estoppel by deed is a doctrine in the law of real property that arises where a party conveys title to land that he does not own to a bona fide purchaser, and then acquires title to that land. ... A quitclaim deed is a term used in property law to describe a document by which a person disclaims any interest the grantor might have in a piece of real property, and passes that claim to another person (the grantee). ... A mortgage is a method of using property as security for the payment of a debt. ... Equitable conversion is a doctrine of the law of real property under which a purchaser of real property becomes the equitable owner of title to the property at the time that they sign a contract binding them to purchase the land at a later date. ... This page is a candidate to be copied to Wiktionary. ... In property law and real estate, a future interest - is an interest that accompanies a defeasible estate. ... A restraint on alienation, in the law of real property, is a clause used in the conveyance of real property that seeks to prohibit the recipient from selling or otherwise transferring his interest in the property. ... The Rule in Shelleys Case, dating from the 14th century, is a famous if now almost useless legal rule that is now the bane of most first-year law students studying common law real property law. ... In the common law of England, the doctrine of worthier title was a legal doctrine that preferred taking title to real estate by descent over taking title by devise or by purchase. ... A nonpossessory interest in land is a term of the law of property to describe any of a category of rights held by one person to use land that is in the possession of another. ... An easement is the right of use over the real property of another. ... A profit, in the law of real estate, is a nonpossessory interest in land similar to the better-known easement, which gives the holder the right to take natural resources such as petroleum, minerals, timber, and wild game from the land of another. ... A covenant running with the land, in the law of real property, is a nonpossessory interest in land in the form of an agreement between adjoining landowners to do or not do something with relation to the land that they respectively occupy - to maintain a fence, for example, or not... An equitable servitude is a term used in the law of real property to describe a nonpossessory interest in land that operates much like a covenant running with the land, requiring the landowner to maintain certain practices with respect to the land (e. ... In the law of real property, fixtures are anything that would otherwise be a chattel that have, by reason of incorporation or affixation, become permanently attached to the real property. ... Waste is a term used in the law of real property to describe a cause of action that can be brought in court to address a change in condition of real property brought about by a current tenant that damages or destroys the value of that property. ... A partition is a term used in the law of real property to describe the court-ordered division of a concurrent estate into separate portions representing the proportionate interests of the tenants. ... Riparian water rights is a system of allocating water among the property owners who abut its source. ... Lateral and subjacent support, in the law of property, describes the right a landowner has to have that land physically supported in its natural state by both adjoining land and underground structures. ... An assignment is a term used with similar meanings in the law of contracts and in the law of real estate. ... Nemo dat quod non habet, literally meaning no one [can] give what they dont have is a legal rule, sometimes called the nemo dat rule that states that the purchase of a possession from someone who has no ownership right to it also denies the purchaser any ownership title. ... A contract is any promise or set of promises made by one party to another for the breach of which the law provides a remedy. ... In the common law, a tort is a civil wrong for which the law provides a remedy. ... In the common law, a will or testament is a document by which a person (the testator) regulates the rights of others over his property or family after death. ... The law of trusts and estates is generally considered the body of law which governs the management of personal affairs and the disposition of property of an individual in anticipation and the event of such persons incapacity or death, also known as the law of successions in civil law. ... Criminal law (also known as penal law) is the body of common law that punishes criminals for committing offences against the state. ... The law of evidence governs the use of testimony (eg. ... Property law is the area of law that governs the various forms of ownership in real property (land as distinct from personal or movable possessions) and in personal property, within the common law legal system. ... Modal logic, or (less commonly) intensional logic is the branch of logic that deals with sentences that are qualified by modalities such as can, could, might, may, must, possibly, and necessarily, and others. ... In the common law, a will or testament is a document by which a person (the testator) regulates the rights of others over his property or family after death. ... In law vesting is to give an immediately secured right of present or future enjoyment. ...

Contents


The common law rule

The Deluxe Eighth Edition of Black's Law Dictionary defines the rule against perpetuities as "[t]he common-law rule prohibiting a grant of an estate unless the interest must vest, if it all, no later than 21 years (plus a period of gestation to cover a posthumous birth) after the death of some person alive when the interest was created."


At common law, the length of time was fixed at 21 years after the death of an identifiable person alive at the time the interest was created. This is often expressed as "lives in being plus twenty-one years." Under the common-law rule, one does not look to whether an interest actually will vest more than 21 years after the lives in being. Instead, if there exists any possibility at the time of the grant, however unlikely or remote, that an interest will vest outside of the perpetuities period, the interest is void and is stricken from the grant. This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ...


There are several ways to avoid violating the rule. For example, a person could use a trust with a "measuring life" to ensure that the contingent interest (typically called a "remainder") vests in someone. This is often the case in large families. For instance, if a family has 12 children, they might write a grant using the 12th child as the "measuring life" to ensure the grant vests, but also endures for a sufficiently long time. There is also an exception to the rule that exempts grants to charities.


Statutory modification

In order to avoid the complexities of the rule, many jurisdictions have statutes that either cancel out the rule entirely or put clearer limits on the period of time and who is affected by it.


About half of the states in the United States follow the Uniform Statutory Rule Against Perpetuities, which gives a grantor 90 years for the interest to vest. If the interest does not vest to some life in being within 90 years, the grant will be reformed judicially so that it does vest.


Other states follow a "wait and see approach," whereby if the interest does not vest within 21 years, the court will either reform the grant so it does or strike the clause that violates the rule.


Problems with the rule

The application of this rule has proven to be difficult in certain situations. The difficulty comes from the problem of identifying who the "lives in being" are and the confusing rules that limit who they can be. For example, if there is any chance of "after-births," newborns who enter the "lives in being" category, then the whole group cannot be the "lives in being."


Fertile Octogenarian

Furthermore, there is the legal fiction of the fertile octogenarian, which assumes that a living person, regardless of sex, age, or physical condition, will always be capable of having more children, thus allowing an interest to vest 21 years after all the lives in being at the time of the grant are dead. In certain places this assumption will be limited to a fixed age set by statute. Furthermore, many jurisdictions have discarded old common-law fictions such as the "fertile octogenarian." In the common law, legal fictions are suppositions of fact taken to be true by the courts of law, but which are not necessarily true. ... The fertile octogenarian rule and the unborn widow rule are two concepts from the law of real property commonly used to examine the empirically unreasonable consequences of the rule against perpetuities. ...


Unborn Widow

The problem of the unborn widow is a frequently used illustration of the Rule's complexities. Suppose that a woman, A, wants to devise her estate to her son B and his wife, and then to their children. The fertile octogenarian rule and the unborn widow rule are two concepts from the law of real property commonly used to examine the empirically unreasonable consequences of the rule against perpetuities. ...


A's devise might look something like this:

To B for life, then to his widow, if any, for life, then to B's children then living.

Though this seems like a reasonable devise, it actually violates the Rule because there is a possibility, however remote, that the interest to "B's children then living" will vest more than 21 years after the deaths of all lives in being.


Suppose B is married without children at the time of the devise. Suppose further that B's wife were to die or B were to divorce. If B were to remarry to someone who was born after the devise, the new wife would not be a life in being at the time of the devise. Similarly, any children born to B and his new wife would also not be lives in being at the time of the devise. If B's new wife were to outlive him (making her his widow) and survive him by more than 21 years, then the interest to "B's children then living" would not vest until after the perpetuities period expired (21 years after the death of B, the only relevant life in being at the time of the devise), because only upon the death of the widow can one ascertain who "B's children then living" are.


Alternately, if B is not married at the time of the devise and B were to get married afterwards, again the wife could not be a life in being since she is not identifiable at the time of the devise. Similarly to the previous case, she could outlive B by more than 21 years, voiding the grant to their children (who also could not be lives in being because they would have been born after the devise was made).


However, if the last interest were simply to B's children, rather than to B's children then living, it would vest upon B's death because at that time all of B's children would be ascertainable. In this instance, the devise would be valid under the Rule.


Charity-to-charity Exception

The Rule never applies to conditions placed on a conveyance to a charity, that if violated would convey the property to another charity. For example, a conveyance "to the Red Cross, so long as it operates an office on the property, but if it does not, then to the Roman Catholic Church" would be void against the Rule, except that both parties are charities. Even though the interest of the Church might not vest for hundreds of years, the conveyance would nonetheless be held valid. The exception, however, does not apply if the conveyance, upon violation of the condition, is not from one charity to another charity. Thus, a devise "to John Smith, so long as no one operates a liquor store on the premises, but if someone does operate a liquor store on the premises, then to the Roman Catholic Church" would violate the rule. The exception would not apply to the transfer from John Smith to the Roman Catholic Church because John Smith is not a charity. The Anarchist Black Cross was originally called the Anarchist Red Cross. The band Redd Kross was originally called Red Cross. This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Catholic Church redirects here. ...


References

Note 1: Richard Posner Economic Analysis of the Law 2nd ed. (1977), sec. 18.7 at page 394. Judge Richard Allen Posner (born January 11, 1939, New York City) is currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. ...


External link

  • EnglishLaw : Main : RuleAgainstPerpetuities Explanation of the Rule in Kevin's collaborative English law glossary

  Results from FactBites:
 
Rule against perpetuities - definition of Rule against perpetuities in Encyclopedia (193 words)
The rule against perpetuities is a legal rule in common law property law which prohibits the grant of an estate where the persons entitled to inherit a future interest cannot be determined with absolute certainty within 21 years after the death of someone alive when the interest was created.
When determining the time in which an estate will vest a person is considered fertile from the time of birth to the time of death.
The common law Rule Against Perpetuities (modified by statute in some states) provides that no interest is valid unless it must vest within 21 years after lives in being when the interest was created.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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