Definition of Estate

The degree, quantity, nature, and extent of interest which a person has in real and personal property. An estate in lands, tenements, and hereditaments signifies such interest as the tenant has therein. 2 Bl.Comm. 103. The condition or circumstance in which the owner stands with regard to his property. Boyd v. Sibold, 7 Wash.2d 279, 109 P.2d 535, 539. In this sense, "estate” is commonly used in conveyances in connection with the words “right,” “title,” and “interest,” and is, in a great degree, synonymous with all of them.

The total property of whatever kind that is owned by a decedent prior to the distribution of that property in accordance with the terms of a will, or, when there is no will, by the laws of inheritance in the state of domicile of the decedent. It means, ordinarily, the whole of the property owned by anyone, the realty as well as the personalty. As used in connection with the administration of decedents’ estates, term includes property of a decedent, trust or other person as such property exists from time to time during the administration, and hence may include probate assets as well as property passing by intestacy. Uniform Probate Code, § 1-201(11).

In its broadest sense, the social, civic, or political condition or standing of a person; or a class of persons considered as grouped for social, civic, or political purposes.

Common Law Classifications

Estates may be either absolute or conditional. An absolute estate is a full and complete estate, or an estate in lands not subject to be defeated upon any condition. In this phrase the word “absolute” is not used legally to distinguish a fee from a life-estate, but a qualified or conditional fee from a fee simple. A conditional estate is one, the existence of which depends upon the happening or not happening of some uncertain event, whereby the estate may be either originally created, or enlarged, or finally defeated. Estates are also classed as executed or executory. The former is an estate whereby a present interest passes to and resides in the tenant, not dependent upon any subsequent circumstance or contingency. They are more commonly called “estates in possession." 2 Bl.Comm. 162. An estate where there is vested in the grantee a present and immediate right of present or future enjoyment. An executory estate is an estate or interest in lands, the vesting or enjoyment of which depends upon some future contingen - cy. Such estate may be an executory devise, or an executory remainder, which is the same as a contingent remainder, because no present interest passes. A contingent estate is one which depends for its effect upon an event which may or may not happen, as, where an estate is limited to a person not yet bom. Conventional estates are those freeholds not of inheritance or estates for life, which are created by the express acts of the parties, in contradistinction to those which are legal and arise from the operation of law. A dominant estate, in the law of easements, is the estate for the benefit of which the easement exists, or the tenement whose owner, as such, enjoys an easement over an adjoining estate. An expectant estate is one which is not yet in possession, but the enjoyment of which is to begin at a future time; a present or vested contingent right of future enjoyment. Examples are remainders and reversions. A future estate is an estate which is not now vested in the grantee but is to commence in possession at some future time. It includes remainders, reversions, and estates limited to commence in futuro without a particular estate to support them, which last are not good at common law, except in the case of chattel interests. 2 Bl.Comm. 165. An estate limited to commence in possession at a future day, either without the intervention of a precedent estate, or on the determination by lapse of time, or otherwise, of a precedent estate created at the same time. A p>articular estate is a limited estate which is taken out of the fee, and which precedes a remainder; as an estate for years to A., remainder to B. for life; or an estate for life to A., remainder to B. in tail. This precedent estate is called the “particular estate,” and the tenant of such estate is called the “particular tenant.” 2 Bl.Comm. 165. A servient estate, in the law of easements, is the estate upon which the easement is imposed or against which it is enjoyed; an estate subjected to a burden or servitude for the benefit of another estate. A settled estate, in English law, is one created or limited under a settlement; that is, one in which the powers of alienation, devising, and transmission according to the ordinary rules of descent are restrained by the limitations of the settle- ment. A vested estate is one in which there is an immediate right of present enjoyment or a present fixed right of future enjoyment; an estate as to which there is a person in being who would have an immediate right to the possession upon the ceasing of some intermediate or precedent estate. An original estate is the first of several estates, bearing to each other the relation of a particular estate and a reversion. An original estate is contrasted with a derivative estate; and a derivative estate is a particular interest carved out of another estate of larger extent.

“Estate” and “heirs” are not equivalent terms, Martin v. Hale, 167 Tenn. 438, 71 S.W.2d 211, 214; Abraham v. Abraham, 245 App.Div. 302, 280 N.Y.S. 825.

As to Homestead; Movable; Real; Residuary; Separate, and Trust (Trust estate), see those titles. See also Augmented estate; Beneficial estate; Gross estate; Joint estate; Life estate; Net estate; Residuary estate; Vested estate.

For the names and definitions of the various kinds of estates in land, see the different titles below.

Landed estate or property. See Landed estate or property.

Qualified estate. Interests in real property which are not absolute and unconditional including fee tail, estates on condition, estates on limitation, and estates on conditional limitation. Carpender v. City of New Brunswick, 135 N.J.Eq. 397, 39 A.2d 40, 43.

Small estate. In some jurisdictions, there is an informal procedure for administration of small estates of decedents less structured than ordinary probate and administration. Normally, the services of an attorney are not required. Uniform Probate Code, § 3-1201 et seq.

That's the definition of Estate in Black's Law Dictionary 6th Edition. Courtesy of