Huntsville, AL asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia

Q: Would I have claim to land previously owned by my family based on wording in original owner's will?

My great, great, great, great, great grandfather owned a significant amount of land in Virginia in the late 1,700's. In his will, he states, "my will is and I desire that my estate be neither appraised nor sold." He then goes on and says "I give and bequeath unto my son..his heirs and assigns forever one half of my land... " He uses similar wording for his other son for the second half. Not long after his death, the land was sold. Based on the wording in the will, in Virginia, would this have meant that his sons and their heirs would not have had the legal right to sell the land? And would this mean, as a descendant, I would have some legal claim to the land?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Ross Cameron Hart
Ross Cameron Hart
  • Salem, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Nope. You don't have any claim at all based on the facts you've given. That little word 'assigns' means people that ancestor may sell the land to. He sold it.

There is also an obscure real estate rule called the 'Rule against Perpetuities' which, in very very simplistic terms, means that one can't tie up land for more than approximately 121 years (actually less, but that's an outside number)

Anthony M. Avery and James H. Wilson Jr. agree with this answer

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