equitable title – indicates a beneficial interest in property, recognized as ownership in equity, but not legal title, that gives the holder the right to have the legal title transferred to him

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equitable title:

1. A title that indicates a beneficial interest in property and that gives the holder the right to acquire formal legal title.  *  Before the Statute of Uses (1536), an equitable title was enforceable only in a court of chancery, not of law.  Cf. legal title. [1]

1. A title which is recognized as ownership in equity, whatever cognizance may be taken of it at law, for example, the title of the vendee under a contract for the sale of real estate. 56 Am J1st V & P § 356.

A title which is not a legal title and is enforceable only in a court of equity, except as statutes or modern rules of practice have wiped out the distinction between an action at law, or a suit in equity.  A title derived through a valid contract or relation, and based on recognized equitable principles; the right in the party, to whom it belongs, to have the legal title transferred to him. Harris v Mason, 120 Tenn 668, 115 SW 1146; Estate of Folwell, 68 NJ Eq 728, 62 A 414. [2]

1. Title recognized as ownership in equity, even though it is not legal title or marketable title; title sufficient to give the party to whom it belongs the right to have the legal title transferred to him.  EXAMPLE: the title held by a  purchaser under a contract for the sale of land. [3]

Related Terms:

beneficial interest – a right or expectancy of value, worth, or use in property one does not own.(i.e a trust or estate) as opposed to legal title; a beneficiary’s interest.


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


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