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Fee Simple

Definition - What does Fee Simple mean?

Fee simple refers to a state with complete or absolute ownership. It means that the state is not burdened by any liability like a debt or interest.

In the context of the law, a person who owns land "in fee simple" has the full rights to its use for planting, harvesting, mining, building or any other legal activity.

The word “fee” is taken from “fief,” which means feudal landholding.

Justipedia explains Fee Simple

“In fee simple” means that the owner of a piece of land is the complete and absolute owner, without any debate about it. An owner with fee simple is not bound by any legal constraint and is free to sell or give their property away. They don’t have to answer to anyone except the government regarding their decisions about how to use the land. Land is commonly passed down in fee simple from one family member to another upon death.

Land owned in fee simple is distinguished from land that is owned with conditions. Other types of interests in the land can have conditions. For example, life estates and fee tail interests are both more limiting in terms of ownership of the property.

Fee simple ownership is limited by government taxation, police power, eminent domain and escheat. It can be further limited by specific conditions in the deed, certain encumbrances, etc.

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