The broadest interest allowed by law that one could hold in land. This interest continues until the current holder of said interest dies without any heirs.
“[Fee simple] is a term not likely to be found in modern conversation between laymen, who would in all probability find it quite intelligible. Yet to a layman of the 14th century the term would have been perfectly intelligible, for it refers to the elementary social relationship of feudalism with which he was fully familiar: the words ‘fee’ and ‘feudal’ are closely related . . . The estate in fee simple is the largest estate known to the law, ownership of such an estate being the nearest approach to ownership of the land itself which is consonant with the feudal principle of tenure. It is ‘the most comprehensive estate in land which the law recognises’; it is the ‘most extensive in quantum, and the most absolute in respect to the rights which it confers, of all estates known to the law’. Traditionally, the fee simple has two distinguishing features: first, the owner (‘tenant’ in fee simple) has the power to dispose of the fee simple, either inter vivos or by will; second, on intestacy the fee simple descends, in the absence of lineal heirs, to collateral heirs — to a brother, for example, if there is no issue.”
Source: Peter Butt, Land Law 35 (2d ed. 1988).
It is the largest possible estate which a person can have, being an absolute estate. It is where lands are given to a person and to his heirs absolutely, without any end or limitation put to the estate. Plowd. 557; 2 Bla. Com. 106 ; Chal. R. P. 191. See Brackett v. Ridlon, 54 Me. 426 ; Haynes v. Bourn, 42 Vt 686.
Where the granting clause of a deed conveys an estate in fee-simple, a subsequent provision that the grantee shall not convey without the consent of the grantor is void as a restriction or alienation, general as to time and person, and therefore repugnant to the estate created ; Murray v. Green, 64 Cal. 363, 28 Pac. 118 ; Wilklns v. Norman, 139 N.
C. 40, 51 S. E. 797, 111 Am. St. Rep. 767.
In modern estates the terms fee, fee-simple, and fee-simple absolute are substantially synonymous; Jecko v. Taussig, 45 Mo. 170.
The word “heirs” is necessary, in a conveyance, to the creation of a fee-simple, and no expression of intention, in substituted terms, will have an equivalent effect; Sisson v. Donnelly, 36 N. J. L. 434; EdwardsvIUe R. Co. v. Sawyer, 92 111. 377 ; Merritt v. Disney, 48 Md. 344 ; but see Cole v. Woolen Mfg. Co., 54 N. H. 290; Cromwell v. Winchester, 2 Head (Tenn.) 389; but it is otherwise in a will; HUl V. Hill, 74 Pa. 173, 15 Am. Rep. 545 ; Arnold v. Brown, 7 R. I. 188.
In the absence of statute, a conveyance of property to a trustee, with power to sell and convey the fee, vests in such trustee an estate in fee-simple, without the use of the
word “heirs ;” Ewing v. Shannahan, 113 Mo. 188, 20 S. W. 1065. The common-law rule that a fee-simple cannot be conveyed without the word “heirs”- does not apply to an exception, or an easement appurtenant to other land of the grantor or of the right to take profit in the soil ; Engel v. Ayer, 85 Me. 448, 27 Atl. 352.
Source: Bouvier’s Law Dictionary & Concise Encyclopedia, 3rd Revision
In English law. A freehold estate of inheritance, absolute and unqualified. It stands at the head of estates as the highest in dignity and the most ample in extent; since every other kind of estate is derivable thereout, and mergeable therein. It may be enjoyed not only in land, but also In advowsons, commons, estovers, and other hereditaments, as well as in personalty, as an annuity or dignity, and also in an upper chamber, though the lower buildings and soil belong to another. Wharton.In American law. An absolute or fee- simple estate is one in which the owner is entitled to the entire property, with unconditional power of disposition during his life,and descending to his heirs and legal representatives upon his death intestate. CodeGa. 1882.
The estate which a man has where lands are given to him and to his heirs absolutely without any end or limit put to his estate. 2 Bl. Comm. 100;Plowd. 557; 1 Prest. Est. 425; Litt.