Vanderbilt Law Review

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The Rule in Shelley's Case Revisited: During the period covered by this survey the Supreme Court of Tennessee handed down an opinion involving one of those problems periodically recurring in the real property field. In this decision the court revisited the Rule in Shelley's Case, pointing out the classic situation to which it applies and calling attention to the statute in Tennessee which abolished the Rule.

The question before the court was in terms of what estate the grantee, Ralph Parker, acquired where the conveyance was to "Ralph Parker and at his death to his bodily heirs." The court concluded that this terminology would have called for an application of the Rule in Shelley's Case at the common law and that, therefore, the Tennessee statute abolishing the Rule was determinative of the question. Under this statute Ralph Parker's interest is a life estate with a contingent remainder in fee to those who at his death will answer the description of the heirs of his body.

Assuming, as the court did and with apparent justification, that there is no distinction or legal difference between a conveyance "to Ralph Parker for life and at his death to his bodily heirs" and a conveyance "to Ralph Parker and at his death to his bodily heirs" as in the deed under construction, then the court is fully supported by Tennessee cases and by the authorities in concluding that the Rule in Shelley's Case would have controlled prior to the statute abolishing the rule in this jurisdiction.