My casebook, hornbook and notes are very sketch on this topic and I'm kiling time waiting to hear back from the professor via email so I put the question to you:
Is there a meaningful difference between a fee simple conditional and a fee tail other than the latter came into existance after the passing of De Donis? It seems that the fee simple conditional may be more easily alienable, since it it dependant, generation after generation on the production of suitable issue, but I may be wrong on this.
They're pretty different. A fee simple subject to a condition subsequent basically means that if the condition subsequent occurs, the grantee may be divested of the property if the grantor chooses to exercise his future interest: a right of entry.
The fee tail has mostly been abolished. It basically passes the interest down in perpetuity through the grantor's line.
I don't think he's talking about fee simple subject to a condition subsequent, just a fee simple conditional. It is basically the same thing as a fee tail as far as I am aware. I think the fee simple conditional came first, which could only rely on primogeniture in order to continue. The fee tail came later, which could rely on any lineal descendant. Someone correct me if I'm wrong though
Ah I see, my bad. I remember glossing over that in my book but my professor pretty much said the fee tails have been substantially abolished and we didn't spend any time on them at all.
The fee tail is an estate whose purpose is to keep the property in a family dynasty. The traditional words to create a fee tail are "O to A and the heirs of his body." Property had to remain within the blood line till it ran out. When it ran out, the property reverted to O or his heirs or a third party (reversion or remainder).
Fee tails, in their original form, no longer exist. Fee tails are abolished in all but four states (Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island). The few states that have fee tails have placed some major restrictions on them.
Some states interpret a fee tail as fee simple absolute. Others allow the owner (including any future owner) to convert the fee tail to fee simple absolute at any point. Others give the owner a life estate and a remainder in fee simple to the progeny.
Fee Simple Conditional is very important to understand. Fee Tails on the other hand are not important.