Copyright

Future Interests: Possibility of Reverter, Right of Entry & Reversion

Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
While some people may not hold a present right to use and occupy land, they may have a future right to do so. In this lesson, you'll learn about reversionary interests, including the possibility of reverter, right of entry and reversion.

Future Interest Defined

Sometimes you have a right to presently occupy and use real estate, and sometimes you have to wait. A present possessory estate in land is an interest where you have the current right to possess and use the real property. Keep in mind, real property is the land, everything permanently affixed to it and the legal rights related to it. If you buy a house, you hold a possessory estate under most circumstances. On the other hand, a future interest is an estate in land where you have a present interest in real estate, but you don't currently have the right to possess it.

Reversionary Interests

In this lesson, we'll be talking about reversionary interests. These are future interests held by the grantor or devisor of an interest in real property. A grantor is simply the name we give to someone who conveys an interest during his or her life, while a devisor does it through a will after death. Reversionary interests include the possibility of reverter, right of entry and reversions. Let's take a look at each.

Possibility of Reverter

One type of future interest is the possibility of reverter, and it's related to possessory estate of fee simple determinable. If a person holds property in fee simple determinable, he or she holds the property so long as an event stated in the conveyance occurs, or in some cases, fails to occur. If this happens, then the person's interest in the property automatically ends and reverts back to the grantor (i.e., the person who transferred the interest), because the grantor retained a future interest in the property called a possibility of reverter. An example will make things clearer.

Let's say Jane is a very religious person. She owns some property on a lake. She decides to deed the lake property to the church but states the property must be used as a place of religious worship and for no other purpose. If the property is not used for that purpose, then Jane will regain title to the property. In this case, we can say that the church has a possessory interest in the property, in the form of a fee simple defeasible, but Jane has a future interest known as the possibility of reverter. We call this interest a possibility of reverter because it's only possible that the future interest will become possessory.

Right of Entry

Another type of future interest is the right of entry. A right of entry is a future interest where the grantor retains the right to enter the property and take possession back if a condition subsequent to the transfer has occurred. A condition subsequent is some event or contingency that occurs after the transfer.

For example, you may deed a piece of unimproved property to your town with the condition that it be used only as a city park and reserve to yourself the right of entry. If the town ceases to use the property as a park, you have a right to enter the land and take it back.

This sounds a lot like the possibility of reverter, but there is an important distinction: the holder of the possessory estate (here, the city) does not automatically lose its estate when the condition subsequent is established as the holder would if it took the land subject to the possibility of reverter. In other words, the holder of the right of entry must exercise the right to regain legal possession of the dirt.

Reversion

If you hold an estate in land and then transfer a lesser estate in that land to another, you have retained a reversion. A lesser estate basically means that you have not transferred the total bundle of property rights you hold in the land to another. Your reversion means you will regain possession of the property you transferred at the termination of the lesser estate. Again, it sounds complicated, but it's not. An example will make reversions clear.

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