Estate (law)


Estate is a term used in the common law. It signifies the total of a person's property (including money), entitlements and obligations. It is often used in the context of will and probate. It may also be used in reference to real estate at type of real property as an estate in land.

An estate in land may be any carved out portion of the fee simple or allodial which is the most complete ownership that one can have of property in the common law system. An estate can be an estate for years, an estate at will, a life estate (extinguishing at the death of the holder) or a fee tail estate (to the heirs of one's body).

Estate in land can also be described as estates of inheritance and other estates that are not of inheritance. The fee simple estate and the fee tail estate are estates of inheritance; they pass to the owner's heirs by operation of law, either without restrictions in the case of fee simple, or with restrictions in the case of fee tail. The estate for years and the life estate are estates not of inheritance; the owner owns nothing after the term of years has passed, and cannot pass on anything to their heirs.

Under the law of bankruptcy in the US, the "estate" is defined by the Bankruptcy Code as all assets or property of any kind belonging to the debtor which is available for distribution to creditors. The person with legal responsibility for the estate is the trustee.

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