Freehold Estate

Generally, an ownership interest in a parcel of real property; as opposed to a mere possessory interest. Freehold estates are further classified as “fee” estates, or “life” estates. The largest fee estate, as measured by the bundle of rights associated with it, is called “fee simple absolute” – an interest of potentially infinite duration, subject only to rights of mortgage or other lien holders (i.e., the power to take property by foreclosure), adverse possession and the state’s power of eminent domain. Rights of use are subject only to zoning, easements and restrictive covenants. The interest is freely transferable, inheritable or devisable. Other smaller fee estates include fee simple conditional, fee simple determinable and fee tail. A life estate is of limited duration; the duration being measured by the life of the owner or by the life of another (“pur autre vie”). Compare leasehold estate.

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