Fee tail

Form of trust in English common law / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In English common law, fee tail or entail, or tailzie in Scots law, is a form of trust, established by deed or settlement, that restricts the sale or inheritance of an estate in real property and prevents that property from being sold, devised by will, or otherwise alienated by the tenant-in-possession, and instead causes it to pass automatically, by operation of law, to an heir determined by the settlement deed. The terms fee tail and tailzie are from Medieval Latin feodum talliatum, which means "cut(-short) fee". Fee tail deeds are in contrast to "fee simple" deeds, possessors of which have an unrestricted title to the property, and are empowered to bequeath or dispose of it as they wish (although it may be subject to the allodial title of a monarch or of a governing body with the power of eminent domain). Equivalent legal concepts exist or formerly existed in many other European countries and elsewhere; in Scots law tailzie was codified in an Act of 1685 which in 1896 was given a short title as an Entail Act.

Most common law jurisdictions have abolished fee tails or greatly restricted their use. They survive in limited form in England and Wales, but have been abolished in Scotland, Ireland, and all but four states of the United States.