The term “future interest” refers to an interest in property that is to be exercised in the future and not the present. A future interest is always created when anything less than a fee simple absolute is conveyed.
“[T]he interest is an existing interest from the time of its creation, and is looked upon as a part of the total ownership of the land or other thing [which] is its subject matter. In that sense, future interest is somewhat misleading, and it is applied only to indicate that the possession or enjoyment of the subject matter is to take place in the future.” Lewis M. Simes & Allen F. Smith, The Law of Future Interests § 1, at 2-3 (2d ed. 1956)
“When O transfer today ‘to A for five years,’ we can say either that O has a future interest or that he has a ‘present’ estate subject to a term for years in A. Similarly, when O transfers today his entire estate in fee simple absolute by conveyance ‘to A for five years, then to B and his heirs,’ we can say either that B has a future interest or that he has a ‘present’ estate subject to a term for years in A. Unhappily, the fact that we have two locutions available to us can be a source of confusion . . . To own a future interest now means not only to be entitled now to judicial protection of one’s possible future possession, but also (in most cases) to be able to make transfers now of that right of possible future possession.” Thomas F. Bergin & Paul G. Haskell, Preface to Estates in Land and Future interests 42, 56 (2d ed. 1984).
There are six main future interests:
- Possibility of Reverter;
- Right of Reentry or Power of Termination;
- Vested Remainder;
- Contingent Remainder; and
- Executory Interest.