Fee Simple Defeasible vs. Fee Simple Absolute: What’s the Difference?

Property deeds can be extremely complicated. When you are purchasing a new asset, however, it is extremely critical to fully understand what exactly it is that you are burying.

In property transactions, fee simple defeasible and fee simple absolute are two of the most common acquisitions. In this article, we will define these terms before helping you understand the difference between the two and what they mean for mineral rights.

What is a Fee Simple Absolute?

As you may be able to infer from the name, a fee simple absolute is the absolute highest form of property ownership that one can have. In a fee simple absolute, a person owns a property until he or she transfers it to someone else (through sale, gift, or inheritance). Here, property owners own surface rights as well as mineral rights, without any limiting conditions.

What is a Fee Simple Defeasible?

On the other hand, a fee simple defeasible is a type of property ownership in which the assets can be taken away from the owner after the occurrence (or-non occurrence) of a special event. Fee simple defeasible can be broken down into two very similar categories: “fee simple determinable” and “fee simple subject to condition subsequent.”
In order to paint a better picture, here’s a good example of a fee simple defeasible: I sell you my property in a fee simple defeasible with the condition that you create an oil well on the land in the next five years. If you fail to set up the oil well in the predetermined time period, then the ownership will revert back to me.

Fee Simple Defeasible vs. Fee Simple Absolute

As you can see, the difference between a fee simple defeasible and a fee simple absolute is quite easy to see. If the previous seller retains any conditional interest in the property, then the deed is most likely to be a fee simple defeasible. For most people, however, a fee simple absolute is the easiest and most common type of property ownership. Here, all deals are final and the new owner is free to do as they wish with the property.

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