FEE SIMPLE ABSOLUTE: Definition, Types, and Examples

fee simple absolute

Ownership of lands and real estate property in the state has its origin in the English feudal system. Unfortunately, many people invest in land and properties without a clear understanding of this form of ownership. Having a clear understanding of these laws will enable you to manage your estate portfolio effectively. This guide walks you through what a fee simple absolute estate is, fee simple absolute vs fee simple defeasible as well as its types.

What Is Fee Simple Absolute?

 According to US law, the fee simple absolute is the highest and most valuable kind of property ownership in the United States. Fee simple absolute gives one the right to use, hold and dispose of land in any way that the owner chooses. This includes the right to dispose of the land through sales, inheritance, or other means, damage, and possession of the land. It grants one absolute ownership, control rights, and interests over the real estate property.

Additionally, a fee simple absolute can be passed down to a descendant or descendants of the original owner via a will or the intestacy laws. When this happens, the heir has the same rights as the initial owner of the land. The name fee simple absolute means ownership and control are non-terminable. A fee simple absolute has two distinct features. The first is that the property must be possessed indefinitely and it can also be inherited by the holder’s heir. When either of these is absent, it means the style of ownership was not fee simple absolute but fee simple.

Key Features of the Fee Simple Absolute

The following are some of the key features of the fee absolute.

Consists of Both Current and Possessory Rights

A fee simple absolute deed gives the owner complete control over the property, including all present and future rights to possession. A person who owns a piece of property has lawful authority over that property, as well as authority over the rights of others to possess and occupy that property.

Fully Transferable

It is entirely possible to transfer ownership of a fee simple absolute estate at any moment in the present or the future. 


Anyone who holds the fee simple absolute ownership has rights and interests that will last for all time. The estate in fee rights is not affected by the transfer of ownership. They proceed with the estate transfer. This simply means if the owner passes the real estate land or property to his descendant, the heir becomes the full custodians of the rights. 

Rights of A Fee Simple Absolute

Some of the various rights a freehold estate owner holds are as follows

  • The right of possession
  • The right of alienation 
  • Right of exclusion

Limitations On Fee Simple Absolute Estates

Although fee simple absolute ownership is the highest type of ownership, the person and the property are nonetheless subject to the laws of the country such as zoning regulations and other legal demands.

Fee Simple Absolute vs Defeasible

If fee simple absolute is considered the most valuable ownership right in the United States, does fee defensible has an advantage over it? Well, before we answer the above and deal with fee simple absolute vs defeasible, let’s find out what a defeasible is.

What Is A Fee Simple Defeasible?

A fee defeasible has two parties. The grantor and the grantee.  In a fee simple defeasible estate, the prior owner transfers title rights of real estate to a new owner who must meet certain conditions. Legally, fee simple defeasible is a form of ownership that relies on specified circumstances that must be met. When these are not met, the property may be restored to the grantor or a designated third party if the terms of ownership are breached. Moreover, a defeasible fee contract must contain language of conveyance if they are to accurately reflect the intentions of the parties involved. The grantee enjoys the rights, interests, and power of the said real estate as long as specific conditions are met or a certain event occurs. The fee simple defeasible is also known as Defeasible fee. Fee Simple Defeasible Estate Rights

Types Of Fee Simple Defeasible

There are three types of fee simple defeasible.

#1. Fee Simple Determinable

Under the fee simple determinable defeasible, there is usually a contingent agreement between the grantor and the grantee. So long as these conditions are met, the grantee remains the owner. However, a violation of any kind means the property rights will automatically revert to the main owner.

Let’s consider a practical example. Albert relinquished his ownership rights to Williams on the condition that the estate will be used for poultry farming only. So long as Williams uses the land for poultry, the interest in the land is his, but, if he decides to add cattle rearing or a dietary farm vending business, the land reverts to the real owner.

Also, the conveyance of property rights uses durational words such as “so long as”, as long as, “until”, “while”, “during”, and so on. These words depict the conditions of the entire land agreement.

#2. Fee Simple Subject to Condition Subsequent

Fee simple subject to condition subsequent defeasible is quite similar to the determinable, however, there is an exception. Under this type of defeasible, the property in question does not automatically revert to the grantor. If a violation occurs, the grantor can opt to reassert his rights over the property.

#3. Fee Simple Subject to Executory Limitation

This simple defeasible grants future property rights to a third party rather than the original owner. Fee simple subject to executory limitation is created by the original owner using durational or conditional phrases that set a condition and name the third party to whom the property will be transferred if the condition is not met or violated. When this happens, the original grantor, losses his stake over the said property.

Comparing the Fee Simple Absolute and the Defeasible Fee

Fee Simple absolute vs the defeasible fee, unlike the latter, a fee simple absolute estate is a freehold estate that does not have any conditions attached to it. The fee defeasible on the other hand demands certain conditions which must be met if you intend to hold ownership. Additionally, in a fee defeasible, ownership is contingent while in a fee absolute, ownership is absolute. 

What Advantage Does Defeasible Fee Have?

One of the main benefits of the defeasible fee is that non-owners who meet the contingent demands can become owners till the agreed time. The ownership can also be till an occurrence or non-occurrence.

Why is the fee simple absolute the most desirable?

Fee simple absolute, also known as a freehold, is the best type of real estate ownership because it gives the owner or owners complete control over the property, with the exception of liens and local regulations like zoning, taxation, and criminal laws.

Is fee simple a good thing?

In fact, when it comes to property ownership, having a fee simple estate is a good thing. It denotes complete ownership of the property, free and clear of any competing claims. It is referred to by a variety of sources as the highest type of land ownership in common-law nations.

What are the two types of fee simple estate?

Pay as You Go Estates, which grant a full interest in land, are the most typical (its yours to be used without conditions or limitations). Fee Simples come in two varieties: Absolute and Defeasible.

Is fee simple a good thing?

In fact, when it comes to property ownership, having a fee simple estate is a good thing. It denotes complete ownership of the property, free and clear of any competing claims. It is referred to by a variety of sources as the highest type of land ownership in common-law nations.

Is fee simple absolute the same as freehold estate?

The terms fee simple and fee simple absolute are frequently used synonymously and derive from the term freehold estate. An owner has unrestricted total control over the property in the case of a fee simple absolute. The duration of your ownership of the property is unrestricted.

What is the most common form of ownership fee simple?

Because it is outright ownership without any limitations, fee simple absolute is more potent than fee simple defeasible. In the United States, it is actually the most typical type of ownership. When discussing fee simple ownership, the term “fee simple absolute” is frequently used.

Fee Simple Vs Fee Simple Absolute

These two appear to be the same thing, some even used it interchangeably but in reality, both differ.

What Is A Fee Simple?

This is a form of land or estate ownership rights. A landowner with fee simple ownership is free to do whatever they choose with their property, including erecting structures on the ground they control. Owners of fee simple property have special legal rights in connection to their property.

Types of Fee Simple 

In comparing the fee simple defeasible and the fee simple absolute, both refer to estate ownership. However, there are two types of fee simple according to the English Law, the fee simple and the fee simple absolute.


The most common form of ownership in the State is the fee simple absolute. If you are buying a new property, you must speak with a real estate attorney. This is because they have a clear understanding of estate laws and will help you purchase your property without duress. 

FAQs On Fee Simple Absolute

Who becomes owner of a fee simple absolute estate if the owner dies without an heir?

When someone who holds the fee simple absolute rights die, his heir becomes the owner with full rights. But if the deceased died without an heir, the State automatically holds fee an estate interest fee right over the property.

Is fee simple Defeasible inheritable?

Fee defeasible exists on a conditional basis. Therefore, it can be inheritable if the heir meets the condition of the grantor.

What are easements and encroachments?

Encroachment is commonly mistaken for an easement by the general public. Encroachments are when a neighbor’s property is entered into without their consent, whereas easements are when both parties consent to the use of the property. Both entail a neighbor’s property owner building additions on top of their own. 

Why is a fee simple estate called the highest form of ownership?

There are certain reasons why the fee simple estate is called the highest form of ownership. Firstly, there is no time limit on the term of the rights granted. Secondly, neither the eminent domain nor a mortgage can be placed on it.

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