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An estate, in
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipres ...
, is the net worth of a person at any point in time, alive or dead. It is the sum of a person's
assets In financial accounting, an asset is any resource owned or controlled by a business or an economic entity. It is anything (tangible or intangible) that can be used to produce positive economic value. Assets represent value of ownership that can ...
– legal rights, interests and entitlements to
property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to consume, alter, share, r ...
of any kind – less all liabilities at that time. The issue is of special legal significance on a question of bankruptcy and death of the person. (See
inheritance Inheritance is the practice of receiving private property, titles, debts, entitlements, privileges, rights, and obligations upon the death of an individual. The rules of inheritance differ among societies and have changed over time. Officia ...
.) Depending on the particular context, the term is also used in reference to an
estate in land An estate in land is, in the law of England and Wales, an interest in real property that is or may become possessory. It is a type of personal property and encompasses land ownership, rental and other arrangements that give people the right to us ...
or of a particular kind of property (such as
real estate Real estate is property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this (also) an item of real property, (more general ...
or
personal estate property is property that is movable. In common law systems, personal property may also be called chattels or personalty. In civil law systems, personal property is often called movable property or movables—any property that can be moved fr ...
). The term is also used to refer to the sum of a person's assets only. The equivalent in civil law legal systems is patrimony.


Bankruptcy

Under
United States bankruptcy law In the United States, bankruptcy is largely governed by federal law, commonly referred to as the "Bankruptcy Code" ("Code"). The United States Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4) authorizes Congress to enact "uniform Laws on the subje ...
, a person's estate consists of all assets or property of any kind available for distribution to creditors. However, some assets are recognized as exempt to allow a person significant resources to restart his or her financial life. In the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territori ...
, asset exemptions depend on various factors, including state and federal law. The estate (or assets) of a bankrupt person is administered by a
trustee in bankruptcy A trustee in bankruptcy is an entity, often an individual, in charge of administering a bankruptcy estate. Canada In Canada, a licensed insolvency trustee (LIT) is an individual or a corporation licensed by the official superintendent to hold ...
. The legal position in all
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipres ...
countries is similar in this respect.


Legal estate in land

In land law, the term "estate" is a remnant of the English
feudal system Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, cultural and political customs that flourished in medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structu ...
, which created a complex hierarchy of estates and interests in land. The
allodial Allodial title constitutes ownership of real property (land, buildings, and fixtures) that is independent of any superior landlord. Allodial title is related to the concept of land held "in allodium", or land ownership by occupancy and defens ...
or fee simple interest 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 In common law and statutory law, a life estate (or life tenancy) is the ownership of immovable property for the duration of a person's life. In legal terms, it is an estate in real property that ends at death when ownership of the property may ...
(extinguishing at the death of the holder), an estate ''pur auter vie'' (a life interest for the life of another person) or a
fee tail In English common law, fee tail or entail is a form of trust established by deed or settlement which restricts the sale or inheritance of an estate in real property and prevents the property from being sold, devised by will, or otherwise alien ...
estate (to the heirs of one's body) or some more limited kind of heir (e.g. to heirs male of one's body). Fee simple estates may be either
fee simple absolute In English law, a fee simple or fee simple absolute is an estate in land, a form of freehold ownership. A "fee" is a vested, inheritable, present possessory interest in land. A "fee simple" is real property held without limit of time (i.e., pe ...
or defeasible (''i.e. subject to future conditions'') like fee simple determinable and fee simple subject to condition subsequent; this is the complex system of
future interests In property law and real estate, a future interest is a legal right to property ownership that does not include the right to present possession or enjoyment of the property. Future interests are created on the formation of a defeasible estate; t ...
(q.v.) which allows concepts of trusts and estates to elide into actuarial science through the use of life contingencies. Estate in land can also be divided into estates of
inheritance Inheritance is the practice of receiving private property, titles, debts, entitlements, privileges, rights, and obligations upon the death of an individual. The rules of inheritance differ among societies and have changed over time. Officia ...
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 The phrase "by operation of law" is a legal term that indicates that a right or liability has been created for a party, irrespective of the intent of that party, because it is dictated by existing legal principles. For example, if a person dies wi ...
, 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 his or her heirs. Wednesday, 16 December 2020 Legal estates and interests are called rights "in rem", and said to be "good against the world".


Equitable estates

Superimposed on the legal estate and interests in land, English courts created "
equitable interest An equitable interest is an "interest held by virtue of an equitable title (a title that indicates a beneficial interest in property and that gives the holder the right to acquire formal legal title) or claimed on equitable grounds, such as the int ...
s" over the same legal interests. These obligations are called
trust Trust often refers to: * Trust (social science), confidence in or dependence on a person or quality It may also refer to: Business and law * Trust law, a body of law under which one person holds property for the benefit of another * Trust (bus ...
s which will be enforceable in a
court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in acco ...
. A
trustee Trustee (or the holding of a trusteeship) is a legal term which, in its broadest sense, is a synonym for anyone in a position of trust and so can refer to any individual who holds property, authority, or a position of trust or responsibility to ...
is the person who holds the
legal title Law is a set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its precise definition a matter of longstanding debate. It has been vari ...
to property, while the beneficiary is said to have an equitable interest in the property.


See also

*
Estate tax An inheritance tax is a tax paid by a person who inherits money or property of a person who has died, whereas an estate tax is a levy on the estate (money and property) of a person who has died. International tax law distinguishes between an es ...
*
Estate tax in the United States The estate tax in the United States is a federal tax on the transfer of the estate of a person who dies. The tax applies to property that is transferred by will or, if the person has no will, according to state laws of intestacy. Other transfe ...
*
Estate planning Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging, during a person's life, for the management and disposal of that person's estate during the person's life, in the event the person becomes incapacitated and after death. The planning inc ...
*
Literary executor The literary estate of a deceased author consists mainly of the copyright and other intellectual property rights of published works, including film, translation rights, original manuscripts of published work, unpublished or partially completed w ...


References

{{Authority control Inheritance Real property law