Perpetual Freehold – an estate given to a grantee for life, and then successively to the grantee’s heirs for life

perpetual freehold:

1. An estate given to a grantee for life, and then successively to the grantee’s heirs for life.  *  The effect of this type of freehold was to keep land within a family in perpetuity, much like a fee tail.

     Excerpt from Peter Butt’s Land Law (2d ed. 1988):

     “It took the form of a grant ‘to A for life, remainder to A’s son for life, remainder to that son’s son for life,’ and so on ad infinitum. Such a limitation, if valid, would have been an effective substitute for the fee tail. The courts, however, set their face against this ‘perpetual freehold’ (as it was sometimes termed), and in Lovelace v. Lovelace (1585) it was held that remainders which did not vest before the determination of the first life estate would fail ex post facto. Subsequently a number of other, not entirely convincing, reasons were found for invalidating perpetual freeholds, ultimately culminating in what is sometimes termed the ‘old’ rule against perpetuities, but, more commonly, the rule in Whitby v. Mitchell, taking its name from the case which marked its emphatic reiteration. [2]


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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]:  Peter Butt, Land Law 136 (2d ed. 1988).


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