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Fee simple is the maximum possible interest, or absolute ownership, that one has on real property.
An owner of property in fee simple has unconditional and unlimited power over the control of it, including it’s disposition, duration, and transferability.
Upon an owner’s death, the property would descend to the designated heirs.
For such a simple term to understand, there are various other terms that it can be known for:
- Fee simple estate
- Fee absolute
- Fee simple absolute
The only way that a fee simple owner will be forced to sell against his will is through eminent domain.
There are two lesser categories of fee simple. But are more common.
- Fee simple defeasible
- Fee simple determinable
Both of which can result in involuntary loss of property depending on specific conditions or events that might happen in the future.
Fee simple defeasible is a type of ownership that is dependent either within a specified duration or with an expressly specified type of use for the property.
For example, a property might be required to be used as a place of worship only. Any other types of commercial or residential usage would potentially give the original grantor or his heirs the right to repossess the property.
In this case, restraint on alienation might also apply.
Fee simple determinable is a type of ownership that will automatically be terminated should some form of specified event occur in the future.
From the previous example, if the property is not used as a place of worship, the title automatically reverts back to the original grantor without needing him to take actions regarding repossession.