ESTATE. This word his several meanings: 1. In its most extensive sense, it is applied to signify every thing of which riches or, fortune may consist and includes personal and real property; hence we say personal estate, real estate. 8 Ves. 504. 2. In its more limited sense, the word estate is applied to lands, It is so applied in two senses. The first describes or points out the land itself, without ascertaining the extent or nature of the interest therein; as "my estate at A." The second, which is the proper and technical meaning of estate, is the degree, quantity, nature and extent of interest which one has in real property; as, an estate in fee, whether the same be a fee simple or fee tail; or an estate for life or for years, &c. Lord Coke says: Estate signifies such inheritance, freehold, term of years, tenancy by statute merchant, staple, eligit, or the like, as any man hath in lands or tenements, &c. Co. Lit. §650, 345 a. See Jones on Land Office Titles in Penna. 165-170.
3. Estates in land may be considered in a fourfold view with regard, 1. To the quantity of interest which the tenant has in the tenement. 2. To the time during which that quantity of interest is to be enjoyed. 3. To the number and connexion of the tenants. 4. To what conditions may be annexed to the estate.
4. - 1. The quantity of interest which the tenant has in his tenement is measured by its duration and extent. An estate, considered in this point of view, is said to be an estate of freehold, and an estate less than freehold.
5.- §1. Freehold estates are of inheritance and not of inheritance. An estate in fee, (q. v.) which is the estate most common in this country, is a freehold estate of inheritance. Estates of freehold not of inheritance, are the following:
6. - 1st. Estates for life. An estate for life is a freehold interest in lands, the duration of which is confined to the life or lives of some particular person or persons, or to the happening or not happening of some uncertain event.
8. - 1. Life estates may be created by express words; as, if A conveys land to B, for the term of his natural life; or they may arise by construction of law, as, if A conveys land to B, without specifying the term or duration, and without words of limitation. In the last case, B cannot have an estate in fee, according to. the English law, and according to the law of those parts of the United States which have adopted and not altered the common law in this particular, but he will take the largest estate which can possibly arise from the grant, and that is an estate for life. Co. Litt. 42, a. So a conveyance " to I M, and his generation, to endure as long as the waters of the Delaware should run," passes no more than a life estate. 3 Wash. C. C. Rep. 498. The life estate may be either for a man's own life, or for the life of another person, and in this last case it is termed an estate per autre vie. There are some estates for life, which may depend upon future contingencies, before the death of the person to whom they are granted; for example, an estate given to a woman dum sola fuerit, or durante viduitate, or to a man and woman during coverture, or as long as the grantee shall dwell in a particular house, is determinable upon the happening of the event. In the same manner, a house usually worth one hundred dollars a year, may be granted to a person still he shall have received one thousand dollars; this will be an estate for life, for as the profits are uncertain, and may rise or fall, no precise time can be fixed for the determination of the estate. On the contrary, where the time is fixed, although it may extend far beyond any life, as a terw for five hundred years, this does not create a life estate.
9. - 2. The estates for life created by operation of law, are, 1st. Estates tail after possibility of issue extinct. 2d. Estates by the curtesy. 3d. Dower. 4th. Jointure. Vide Cruise. Dig. tit. 3; 4 Kent, Com. 23; 1 Brown's Civ. Law, 191; 2 Bl. Com. 103. The estate for life is somewhat similar to the usufruct (q. v.) of the civil law.
10. The incidents to an estate for life, are principally the following: 1. Every tenant for life, unless restrained by covenant or agreement, may of common right take upon the land demised to him reasonable estovers or bote's. Co. Litt. 41.
11. - 2. The tenant for life, or his representatives, shall not be pre-judiced by any sudden determination of his estate, because such determination is contingent or uncertain. Co. Litt. 55.
12. - 3. Under tenants or lessees of an estate for life, have the same, and even greater indulgences than the lessors, the original tenants for life; for when the tenant for life shall not have the emblements, because the estate determines by his own act, the exception shall not reach his lessee, who is a third person. l Roll. Ab. 727 2 Bl. Com. 122.
13. - 2d. Estates by the curtesy. An estate by the curtesy is an estate for life, created by act of law, which is defined as follows: When a man marries a woman, seised at any time during the coverture of an estate of inheritance, in severalty, in coparcenary, or in common, and has issue by her born alive, and which migbt by possibility inherit the same estate as heir to the wife, and the wife dies in the lifetime of the hushand, he holds the lands during, his life by the curtesy of England, and it is immaterial whether the issue be living at the time of the seisin, or at the death of the wife, or whether it was born before or after the seisin. Litt. s. 35; Co. Litt. 29, b; 8 Co. 34. By Act of Asserably of Pennsylvania, the birth of issue is not necessary, in all cases where the issue, if any, would have inherited.
14. There are four requisites indispensably necessary to the existence of this estate: 1. Marriage. 2. Seisin of the wife, which must have been seisin in deed, and not merely seisin in law; it seems, however, that the rigid rules of the common law, have been relayed, in this respect, as to what is sometimes called waste or wild lands. 1 Pet. 505. 3. Issue. 4. Death of the wife.
15. - 1. The marriage must be a lawful marriage; for a void marriage does not entitle the hushand to the curtesy; as if a married man were to marry a second wife, the first being alive, he would not be entitled to the curtesy in such second wife's estate. But if the marriage had been merely voidable, he would be entitled, because no marriage, merely voidable, can be annulled after the death of the parties. Cruise, Dig. tit. 5, c. 1, s. 6.
16. - 2. The seisin of the wife must, according to the English law, be a seisin in deed; but this strict rule has been somewhat qualified by circumstances in this country. Where the wife is owner of wild uncultivated land, not held adversely, she is considered as seised in fact, and the hushand is entitled to his curtesy. 8 John. 262 8 Cranch, 249; 1 Pet. 503 1 Munf. 162 1 Stow. 590. When the wife's state is in reversion or remainder, the hushand is not, in general, entitled to the curtesy, unless the particular estate is elided during coverture. Perk. s. 457, 464; Co. Litt. 20, a; 3 Dev. R. 270; 1 Sumn. 263; but see 3 Atk. 469; 7 Viner, Ab. 149, pl. 11. The wife's seisin must have been such as to enable her to inherit. 5 Cowen, 74.
17. - 3. The issue of the marriage, to entitle the hushand to the curtesy, must possess the following qualifications: 1. Be born alive. 2. In the lifetime of the mother. 3. Be capable of inheriting the estate.
18. - 1st. The issue must be born alive. As to what will be considered life, see Birth; Death; Life.
19. - 2d. The issue must be born in the lifetime of the mother; and if the child be born after the death of the mother, by the performance of the Caesarian operation, the hushand will not be entitled to the curtesy; as there was no issue born at the instant of the wife's death, the estate vests immediately on the wife's death to the child, in ventre sa mere, and the estate being once vested, it cannot be taken from him. Co. Litt. 29, b.; 8 Co. Rep., 35, a. It is immaterial whether the issue be born before or after the seisin of the wife. 8 Co. Rep. 35, b.
20. - 3d. The issue must be capable of inheriting the estate; When, for example, lands are given to a woman and the heirs male of her body, and she has a daughter, this issue will not enable lier hushand to take his curtesy. Co. Litt. 29, a.
21. - 4th. The death of the wife is requisite to make the estate by the curtesy complete.
22. This estate is generally prevalent in the United States; in some of them it has received a modification. In Pennsylvania the right of the hushand takes place although there be no issue of the marriage, in all cases where the issue, if any, would have inherited. In Vermont, the title by curtesy has been laid under the equitable restriction of existing only in the event that the children of the wife entitled to inherit, died within age and without children in South Carolina, tenancy by the curtesy, eo nomine, has ceased by the provisions of an act passed in 1791, relative to the distribution of intestates estates, which gives to the hushand surviving his wife, the same share of her real estate, as she would have taken out of his, if left a widow, and that is one moiety, or one-third of it in fee, according to circumstances. In Georgia, tenancy by the curtesy does not exist, because, since 1785, all marriages vest the real, equally with the personal estate, in the hushand. 4 Kent, Com. 29. In Louisiana, where the common Iaw has not been adopted in this respect, this estate is unknown.
23. This estate is not peculiar to the English law, as Littleton erroneously supposes; Litt. s. 35; for it is. to be found, with some modifications, in the ancient laws of Scotland, Ireland, Normandy and Germany. In France there were several customs, which gave a somewhat similar estate to the surviving hushand, out of the wife's inheritances. Merlin, Repert. mots Linotte, et Quarte de Conjoint pauvre.
24. - 3d. Estate in dower. Dower is an estate for life which the law gives the widow in the third part of the lands and tenements, or hereditaments of which the hushand was solely seised, at any time during the coverture, of an estate in fee or in tail, in possession, and to which estate in the lands and tenements the issue, if any of such widow, might, by possibility, have inherited. In Pennsylvania, the sole seisin of the. hushand is not necessary. Watk. Prin. Con. 38; Lit. §36; Act of Penna. March 31, 1812.
25. To create a title to the dower, three things are indispensably requisite: 1. Marriage. This must be a marriage not absolutely void, and existing at the death of the hushand; a wife de facto, whose marriage is voidable by decree, as well as a wife de jure, is entitled to it; and the wife shall be endowed, though the marriage be within the age of consent, and the hushand dies within that age. Co. Litt. 33, a; 7 Co. 42; Doct. & Stud. 22; Cruise, Dig. t. 6, c. 2, s, 2, et seq.
26. - 2. Seisin. The hushand must have been seised, some time during the coverture, of the estate of which the wife is dowable. Co. Litt. 31, a. An actual seisin is not indispensable, a seisin in law is sufficient. As to the effect of a transitory seisin, see 4 Kent, Com. 38; 2 Bl. Com. 132; Co. Litt. 31, a.
27. - 3. Death of the hushand. This must be a natural death; though there are authorities which declare that a civil death shall have the same effect. Cruise, Dig. tit. 6, ch. 2, §22. Vide, generally, 8 Vin. Ab. 210; Bac. Ab. Dower; Com. Dig. Dower; Id. App. tit. Dower; 1 Supp. to. Ves. jr. 173, 189; 2 Id. 49; 1 Vern. R. by Raithby, 218, n. 358, n.; 1 Salk. R. 291; 2 Ves. jr. 572; 5 Ves. 130; Arch. Civ. Pl. 469; 2 Sell. Pr. 200; 4 Kent, Com. 35; Amer. Dig. h. t.; Pothier, Traite du Douaire; 1 Swift's Dig. 85; Perk. 300, et seq.
28. - 4th. Estate tail after possibility of issue extinct. By this awkward, but perhaps necessary periphrasis, justified by Sir William Blackstone, 2 Com. 124, is meant the estate which is thus described by Littleton, §32 when tenements are given to a man and his wife in special tail, if one of them die without issue, the survivor is tenant in tail after possibility of issue extinct."
29. This estate though, strictly speaking, not more than an estate for life, partakes in some circumstances of the nature of an estate tail. For a tenant in tail after possibility of issue extinct, has eight qualities or privileges in common with a tenant in tail. 1. He is dispunishable for waste. 2. He is not compellable to attorn. 3. He shall not have aid of the person in reversion. 4. Upon his alienation no writ of entry in consimili casu lies. 5. After his death, no writ of intrusion lies. 6. He may join the mise in a writ of right in a special manner. 7. In a praecipe brought by him he shall not name himself tenant for life. 8. In a praecipe brought against him, he shall not be named barely tenant for life.
30. There are, however, four qualities annexed to this estate, which prove it to be, in fact, only an estate for life. 1. If this tenant makes a feoffment in fee, it is a forfeiture. 2. If an estate tail or in fee descends upon him, the estate tail after possibility of issue extinct is merged. 3. If he is impleaded and makes default, the person in reversion shall be received, as upon default of any other tenant for life. 4. An exchange between this tenant and a bare tenant for life, is good; for, with respect to duration, their. estates are equal. Cruise, Dig. tit. 4; Tho. Co. Litt. B. 2, c. 17; Co. Lit. 28, a.
31. Nothing but absolute impossibility of having issue, can give rise to this estate. Thus if a person gives lands to a man and his, wife, and to the heirs of their two bodies, and they live to a hundred years, without having issue, yet they are tenants in tail; for the law' sees no impossibility of their having issue, until the death of one of them. Co. Litt. 28, a. See Tenant in tail after possibility of issue extinct.
32. - §2. An estate less than freehold is an estate which is not in fee, nor for life; for although a man has a lease for a thousand years, which is much longer than any life, yet it is not a freehold, but a mere estate for years, which is a chattel interest. Estates less than freehold are estates for years, estates at will, and estates at sufferance.
33. - 1. An estate for years, is one which is created by a leas; for years, which is a contract for the posspssion and profits of land for a determinate period, with the recompense of rent; and it is deemed an estate for years, though the number of years should exceed the ordinary limits of human life; and it is deemed an estate for years though it be limited to less than a single year. It is denominated a term, because its duration is absolutely defined.
34. An estate for life is bigher than an estate for years, though the latter should be for a thousand years. Co. Litt. 46, a; 2 Kent, Com. 278; 1 Brown's Civ. Law, 191; 4 Kent, Com. 85; Cruise's Dig. tit. 8; 4 Rawle's R. 126; 8 Serg. & Rawle, 459; 13 Id. 60; 10 Vin. Ab. 295, 318 to 325.
35. - 3. An estate at will is not bounded by any definite limits with respect to time; but as it originated in mutual agreement, so it depends upon the concurrence of both parties. As it depends upon the will of both, the dissent of either may determine it. Such an estate or interest cannot, consequently, be the subject of conveyance to a stranger, or of transmission to representatives. Watk. Prin. Con. 1; Litt. §68.
36. Estates at will have become infrequent under the operation of judicial decisions. Where no certain term is agreed on, they are now construed to be tenancies from year to year, and each party is bound to give reasonable notice of an intention to terminate the estate. When the tenant holds over by consent given, either expressly or by implication, after the determination of a lease for years, it is held evidence of a new contract, without any definite period, and is construed. to. be a tenancy from year to year. 4 Kent, Com. 210; Cruise, Dig. tit. 9, c . 1.
37.-3. An estate at sufferance. The session of land by lawful title, but holds over by wrong after the determination of his interest. Co. Litt. 57, b. He has a bare naked possession, but no estate which he can transfer or transmit, or which is capable of enlargement by. release, for he stands in no privity to his landlord.
38. There is a material distinction between the case of a person coming to an estate by act of the party, and afterwards holding over, and by act of the law and then holding over. In the first case, he is regarded as a tenant at sufferauce; and in the other, as an intruder, abator, and trespasser. Co. Litt. 57, b; 2 Inst. 134 Cruise, Dig. t. 9, c. 2 4 Kent, Com. 115 13 Serg. & Rawle, 60 8 Serg. & Rawle, 459; 4 Rawle, 459; 4 Rawle's R. 126.
39. - II. As to the time of their enjoyment, estates are considered either in possession, (q. v.) or expectancy. (q. v.) The latter are either remainders, (q. v.) which are created, by the act of the parties, and these are vested or contingent, or reversions, (q, v.) created by act of law.
40. - III. An estate way be holden in a variety of ways the most common of which are, 1. In severalty. 2. In joint tenancy. 3. In common. 4. In coparcenary. These will be separately considered.
41. - 1. dn estate in severally, is where only one tenant holds the estate in his own right, without any other person being joined or connected with him, in point-of interest, during the continuance of his estate.
42. - 2. dn estate in joint tenancy, is where lands or tenements are granted to two or more persons, to hold in fee simple, fee tail, for life, for years, or at will. 2 Bl. Com. 179. Joint tenants always take by purchase, and necessarily have equal shares; while tenants in common, also coparceners, claiming under ancestors in different degrees, may have unequal shares and the proper and best mode of creating an estate in joint tenancy, is to limit to A B and C D, and their assigns, if it be an estate for life; or to A B and C D, and their heirs, if in) fee. Watk. Prin. Con. 86.
43. The creation of the estate depends upon the expression in the deed or devise, by which the tenants hold, for it must be created by the acts of the parties, and does not result from the operation of law. Thus, an estate given to a number of persons, without any restriction or explanation, will be construed a joint tenancy; for every part of the grant can take effect only, by considering the estate equal in all, and the union of their names gives them a name in every respect.
44. The properties of this estate arise from its unities; these are, 1. Unity of title; the estate must have been created and derived from one and the same conveyance. 2. There must be a unity of time; the estate must be created and vested at the same period. 3. There must be a unity of interest; the estate must be for the same duration, and for the same quantity of interest. 4. There must be a unity of possession; all the tenants must possess and enjoy at the same time, for each must have an entire possession of every parcel, as of the whole. One has not possession of one-half, and another of the other half, but each has an undivided moiety of the whole, and not the whole of an undivided moiety.
45. The distinguishing incident of this estate, is the right of survivorship, or jus accrescendi; at common law, the entire tenancy or estate, upon the death of any of the joint tenants, went to the survivors, and so on to the last survivor, who took an estate of inheritance. The right of survivorship, except, perhaps, in estates held in trust, is abolished in Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee, North and-South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. Griffith's Register, h. t. In Connecticut it never was recognized. 1 Root, Rep. 48; 1 Swift's Digest, 102. Joint tenancy may be destroyed by destroying any of its constituent unities, except that of time. 4 Kent, Com. 359. Vide Cruise, Dig. tit. 18; 1 Swift's Dig. 102; 14 Vin. Ab. 470; Bac. Ab. Joint Tenants, &c.; 3 Saund. 319, n. 4; 1 Vern. 353,; Com. Dig. Estates by Grant, K 1; 4 Kent, Com. 353; 2 Bl. Com. 181; 1 Litt. see. 304 2 Woodd. Lect. 127; 2 Preston on Abst. 67; 5 Binn. Rep . 18; Joint tenant; Survivor; Entirety.
46. - 3. An estate in common, is one which is held by two or more persons by unity of possession.
47. They may acquire their estate by purchase, and hold by several and distinct titles, or by title derived at the same time, by the same deed or will; or by descent. In this respect the American law differs from the English common law.
48. This tenancy, according to the common law, is created by deed or will, or by change of title from joint tenancy or coparcenary; or it arises, in many cases, by construction of law. Litt. sec. 292, 294, 298, 302; 2 Bl. Com. 192; 2 Prest. on Abstr. 75.
49. In this country it maybe created by descent, as well as by deed or will. 4 Kent, Com. 363. Vide Cruise, Dig. tit. 20 Com. Dig. Estates by Grant, K 8.
50. Estates in common can be dissolved in two ways only; first, by uniting all the titles and interests in one tenant secondly, by making partition.
52. This is usually applied, in England, to cases where lands descend to females, when there are no male heirs.
53. As in the several states, estates generally descend to all the children equally, there is no substantial difference between coparceners and tenants in common. The title inherited by more persons than one, is, in some of the states, expressly declared to be a tenancy in common, as in New York and New Jersey, and where it is not so declared the effect is the same; the technical distinction between coparcenary and estates in common may be considered as essentially extinguished in the United States. 4 Kent, Com. 363. Vide Estates.
54. - IV. An estate upon condition is one which has a qualification annexed to it by which it may, upon the happening or not happening of a particular event, be created, or enlarged, or destroyed. Conditions may be annexed to estates in fee, for life, or for years. These estates are divided into estates upon condition express, or in deed; and upon conditions implied, or in law.
55. Estates upon express conditions are particularly mentioned 'in the contract between the parties., Litt. s. 225; 4 Kent, Com. 117; Cruise, Dig. tit. 13.
56. Estates upon condition in law are such as have a condition impliedly annexed to them, without any condition being specified in the deed or will. Litt. s. 378, 380; Co. Litt. 215, b; 233, b; 234, b.
57. Considered as to the title which may be had in them, estates are legal and equitable. 1. A legal estate is one, the right to which can be enforced in a court of law. 2. An equitable, is a right or interest in land, which not having the properties of a legal estate, but being merely a right of which courts of equity will take notice, require the aid of such a court to, make it available. See, generally, Bouv. Inst. Index, h. t.