Property Law.  A future interest created in a grantor who conveys anything less than a fee simple (either absolute or defeasible) in the property; in other words, the reversion follows a life estate or a fee tail.  Unlike the possibility of reverter and the right of entry, a reversion that follows a life estate will eventually become possessory.  There is no possibility that the original grantee’s estate will not expire.  The grantor’s estate is therefore termed a reversion instead of merely a “possibility” of reverter.

Reference Desk:

Preseault v. United States, 100 F.3d 1525 (Fed. Cir. 1996):

Under traditional common law estates terminology, a “reversion” is a future interest remaining in the transferor following the conveyance of certain lesser estates to a transferee, typically when the transferee takes a possessory estate of freehold, for example a life estate.

Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Co. v. Harloff, 133 N.J. Eq. 44 (1943):

A reversion has been defined as ‘a future estate created by operation of law to take effect in possession in favor of a lessor or a grantor or his heirs, or the heirs of a testator, after the natural termination of a prior particular estate leased, granted or devised.’ Reeves on Real Prop. Vol. II, par. 863. Sir Edward Coke described a reversion to be the returning of lands to the grantor or his heirs after the grant is over. 1 Institutes 142. ‘A future estate may be indirectly created by giving livery of seisin for one or more life estates, without an ultimate remainder in fee. The estate remaining in the former owner ready to come into possession on the termination of the life estate or estates is a reversion. The same result is reached when an ultimate remainder in fee is contingent. Until it vests, there is a reversion in the feoffor and his heirs.’ (Emphasis supplied.) Gray, The Rule against Perpetuities, 4th Ed., § 11. A reversionis never created by deed or writing, but arises from operation of law. 2 Bl.Com. 175; Tiffany, Real Prop., par. 135; Todd v. Jackson, 26 N.J.L. 525, 540. ‘A remainder has its origin in express grant; *52 a reversion merely arises incidentally, in consequence of the grant of the particular estate. It is created simply by the law, whilst a remainder springs from the act of the parties.’ Williams, Real Prop., 23rd Ed., 362.

Copenhaver v. Pendleton, 155 Va. 463 (1930):

A reversion is the remnant of an estate continuing in the grantor, undisposed of, after the grant of a part of his interest. It differs from a remainder in that it arises by act of the law, whereas a remainder is by act of the parties. A reversion, moreover, is the remnant left in the grantor, whilst a remainder is the remnant of the whole estate disposed of, after a preceding part of the same has been given away.

Ringgold v. Carvel, 196 Md. 262 (1950):

A reversion is any reversionary interest not subject to a condition precedent, the residue of an estate left in testator or grantor, which he owned before and never lost, to commence in possession after determination of some particular estate devised or granted by him.

Where a contingent remainder in fee is created by a devise, a reversion in fee, and not a mere possibility of reverter, is in testator’s heirs or residuary devisees until the remainder vests.

Where a will devised real estate to widow for life, then to grandson by daughter for life, remainder to grandson’s children and grandchildren living at the time of his death, and the residuary clause devised the residue of real estate to testator’s son for life with remainder to “his children [and grandchildren] living at the time of his death”, held, the will devised a contingent remainder to the grandson’s children and grandchildren living at the time of his death, and by the residuary clause gave the reversion to his son for life with remainder to son’s children and grandchildren living at the time of his death.

Where there is a devise to one person for life with a contingent remainder to his surviving children in fee simple, and a residuary devise, including the reversion after the life estate, to another, and the life-tenant had no children, the residuary devisee takes the fee simple as a vested remainder.

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