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Abo Petroleum Corporation v. Amstutz

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Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Property Law Keyed to Cribbet

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 93 N.M. 332, 600 P.2d 278 (1979)

Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff Abo Petroleum Company filed suit to quiet title in lands which were purportedly conveyed to them in fee simple by Beulah and Ruby, life tenants. The daughters of the life tenants contest Plaintiff’s suit.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. This Court will refuse to enforce the doctrine of destructibility of contingent remainders which is an ancient English rule which states that if the prior estate terminated before the occurrence of the contingency, then the contingent remainders would be destroyed for the lack of a supporting freehold estate.

Facts. In February of 1908 by separate instruments which were called “conditional deeds” James and Amanda Turknett (grandparents of Defendants) conveyed life estates in two separate parcels to Ruby and Beulah (parents of the Defendants). The deeds called for the property to remain the daughters’ “during her natural life, . . . and at her death to revert, vest in, and become the property absolute of her heir or heirs, meaning her children if she have any at her death, but if she die without heirs, then and in that event this said property and real estate shall vest” in her estate. At the time neither daughter was married and neither daughter had any children. In 1911, the parents gave another deed to Beulah which purported to give “absolute title to the grantee.” Also, there were subsequent deeds on the same parcels to Beulah in 1916 and to Ruby as a “correction deed.” After the deeds had been made Beulah had three children and Ruby had four children. Beulah and Ruby attempted to conv
ey fee simple interests in the property to predecessors of Plaintiff Abo Petroleum Company. The children of Beulah and Ruby argue that the their parents could only convey life estates in the property to the predecessors of Plaintiff Abo Petroleum Company. The Plaintiff contends that the deeds in 1911 and 1916 vested Beulah and Ruby with fee simple title which was then conveyed to Plaintiff’s predecessors. The lower court found in favor of Abo Petroleum Company and the children appealed.

Issue. Could the original grantees Beulah and Ruby have received any interest in the deeds which came after the creation of the life estate, such that the contingent remainders of the life estate are destroyed?

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