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Jaspers, Moriarty & Wetherille, P.A.
Seasoned Legal Judgment For The South Metro Area

February 2014 Archives

Better Estate Planning through Downton Abbey Pt. 2

Make a Strong Devise "Downton Abbey" and Pride and Prejudice each are stories besieged by the perils of a now-abolished type of gift in land called the fee tail. A fee tail is created by making a gift of land "to John Doe and the heirs of his body." This creates a dynamic where the current holder of land only has a life estate - the ability to control the land and its income for their lifetime but has no ability to sell the underlying land itself - and then at that person's death decedents inherit the land for their lifetime. The design of this model was to keep large estates in the primary line of succession. As is obvious in both "Downton Abbey" and Pride and Prejudice, the livelihood of a family with only daughters is imperiled if their father dies without a male heir - the land and home of the spouse and daughters can be lost to a distant relative, leaving the female members of the family without a place to live or income to live on.

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