1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Perpetuity

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PERPETUITY (Lat. perpetuus, continuous), the state of being perpetual or continuing for an indefinite time; in law the tying-up of an estate for a lengthened period, for the purpose of preventing or restricting alienation. As being opposed to the interest of the state and individual effort, the creation of perpetuities has been considerably curtailed, and the rule against perpetuities in the United Kingdom now forbids the making of an executor interest unless beginning within the period of any fixed number of existing lives and an additional period of twenty-one years (with a few months added, if necessary, for the period of gestation). The rule applies to dispositions of personal property (see Accumulation) as well as of real property. There are certain exceptions to the rule, as in the case of limitations in mortmain and to charitable uses, and also in the case of a perpetuity created by act of parliament (e.g. the estate of Blenheim, settled on the duke of Marlborough, and Strathfieldsaye on the duke of Wellington). In the United States the English common-law rule against perpetuities obtains in many of the states; in others it has been replaced or reinforced by statutory rules (see Gray on Alienation, § 42). Charities may be established in perpetuity, and provision may be made for an accumulation of the funds for a reasonable time, e.g. for 100 years (Woodruff v. Marsh, 63 Conn. Rep. 125; 38 Amer. St. Rep. 346). The general tendency of American legislation is to favour tying up estates to a greater extent than was formerly approved.