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rule against perpetuities

n. the legal prohibition against tying up property so that it cannot be transferred or vest title in another forever, for several future generations, or for a period of centuries. The maximum period in which real property title may be held without allowing title to vest in another is "lives in being plus 21 years." Therefore, a provision in a deed or will which reads, "Title shall be held by David Smith and, upon his death, title may only be held by his descendants until the year 2200, when it shall vest in the Trinity Episcopal Church," is invalid, but a provision that "the property will be held by my son George for his life, and thereafter by his son, Thomas, and for 20 years by his future children, before it may be conveyed (transferred) [or title shall then vest in the church]" is acceptable under the rule.

See also: restraint on alienation 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications