rule in Shelley's case

rule in Shel·​ley's case
often capitalized R
: a former common-law rule that converted a life estate of an ancestor into an estate in fee and destroyed the remainder to the heirs that was created in the same instrument as that creating the life estate see also executory interest at interest sense 1

Word History


from Wolfe v. Shelley, a 1581 English case invoking the rule

Dictionary Entries Near rule in Shelley's case

Cite this Entry

“Rule in Shelley's case.” Legal Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

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