No interest is good unless it must vest, if at all, not later than twenty-one years after some life in being at the creation of the interest. If, by any possibility, an interest cannot vest or fail within the 21-year limit, then a devise is void for remoteness. Interests subject to the rule are contingent remainders, executory interests (or devises), options to purchase land not incident to a lease for years, and powers of appointment. Interests not subject to the rule are present interests in possession, reversions, vested remainders, possibilities of reverter, powers of termination, charitable trusts, and resulting trusts.
Plaintiff devisee's grandfather left him a life estate in land. Plaintiff's child or children were given a contingent remainder in fee simple. The descendants of his children were given an alternative contingent remainder in fee simple, as were his two aunts. Plaintiff sought to quiet title on the ground that the devise violated the rule against perpetuities. The trial court granted summary judgment for defendant aunt. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed.
Did the devise to the children violate the rule against perpetuities?
The court entered into a three-step process to determine whether the rule was violated. First, the court determined that the language of the devise was clear and, second, that it created a life estate in the devisee and contingent remainders. Third, the court applied the rule against perpetuities and held that it was not violated. The condition that triggered the contingent remainder was the death of the devisee and that once the devisee died, the interest should necessarily vest or fail. Therefore, the devise to the children did not violate the rule.