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A Review of Ownership Interests in Lands and Ownership Entities

Timothy C. Dowd, Nuts and Bolts of Mineral Title Examination (2012)

There are several types of ownership interests and ownership entities in land that have developed over the years. “A common idiom describes property as a ‘bundle of sticks’ - a collection of individual rights which, in certain combinations, constitutes property.”1 The following will describe some of those individual rights or interests as well as different entities.

2. Fee Interest

A fee interest is ownership of both the surface interest and the mineral interest.2 A fee interest in land is often referred to as the entire bundle of sticks. It generally means ownership of both the surface and mineral rights in fee simple absolute. Fee simple absolute means an estate of indefinite or potentially infinite duration.3 At common law an owner of land in fee simple absolute was said to own the land to an infinite extent, upwards as well as downwards. This gives “one” absolute ownership which includes both title and possession of the land. This land owner may grant to others certain more specific interests in the land such as a mineral, surface, or leasehold interest.4

A fee interest can also be conveyed in such a way that it may end upon the happening of a future specified event. This is known as a fee simple defeasible. A fee simple defeasible is an estate that ends either because there are no more heirs of the person to whom it is granted or because a specia