CONTINGENT FUTURE INTERESTS
The Rule in Shelley’s Case If a conveyance creates a life estate in a grantee and a remainder in fee simple in the heirs of the grantee, the words “heirs of .” are treated as words of limitation and the grantee is given a fee simple absolute.
Example: “To A for life, remainder to the heirs of A,” or “to the children of A.” In both cases the Rule in Shelley’s Case will treat A as having a present possessory fee simple absolute and his children/heirs will not have any interest.
Modern View This rule is abolished in most jurisdictions. In the example above, A gets a life estate and his heirs have a contingent remainder in fee simple absolute.
The Doctrine of Worthier Title If a grantor creates a life estate in the grantee and then grants the remainder in fee simple to the grantor’s heirs, the remainder is construed as a reversion in fee simple absolute in the grantor.
1. Example: G grants “to A for life, remainder to G’s heirs.” A has a presently possessory life estate and G has a reversion in fee simple absolute, G’s heirs do not have any interest. This rule is only applied to inter vivos transfers. Modern view Most states treat “Worthier Title” as a presumption only, which is rebuttable by evidence of the grantor’s actual intent. Some states have abolished the doctrine.