fee tail


  • Real Estate Law

Definitions of fee tail

  • (COMMON LAW; PROPERTY LAW) (DATED) a legal interest in land that can only be passed on to the owner’s descendants (=relatives of a person who lived in the past)

    The fee tail was a device tuned to the needs of family settlements in the thirteenth century.

Phrase Bank for fee tail

  • Estates in fee tail are prohibited.

  • Many states never recognised the fee tail estate.

  • No new fee tails can be created following the Act.

  • An attempt to create a fee tail results in a fee simple.

Additional Notes for fee tail

  • Civil law jurisdictions have also had versions of the fee tail. These interests can no longer be created in most jurisdictions.

  • Article: Fee tails

    A fee tail (also: entail/i>) is an interest in land which, following your death, will only be given to your descendants who cannot later transfer it.

    The entail was part of the European hereditary system that defined its political order. The ownership of property served as a basis for that order. The entail enabled landowning families to retain their land over generations and thus the social and political privileges associated with land ownership. Land which was entailed by deed or will could not be sold or mortgaged unless the entail was removed by a separate legal process. Of course, this meant that creditors of the land owner could not foreclose on the property for the payment of the landowners debts. When the landowner died, the land would automatically be inherited by the oldest male heir. This system resulted in creating many land rich families with no money.

    The demise of the entail came relatively quickly in many US states such as New York, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky. Although it still exists in a few US states in some form. In England, the force of the entail was limited in 1833 by laws making it easier for creditors to break the entail. The Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 formally ended the use of entails in England.

    NOTE: in the estates law area, a tail simply means limited, reduced or curtailed.