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See Tenant in tail. A legal or equitable estate in which lands and tenements to pass by lineal descent only. The estate endures until the holder dies without issue. Only Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island hold such estates valid. An estate resulting from the application of the Statute de Donis to the conditional fee. The name was borrowed from the feudists, among whom it signified any mutilated or truncated inheritance from which the heirs general were cut off, or, as some say, because ownership of the subject was cut in two parts, one going to the donee and the heirs of his body, and the other remaining as a reversion in the donor.

 It is well settled by a long line of decisions that at common law a gift of A for life, and, upon his death, to the heirs of his body or his issue, was a gift of a fee tail.

In 1 H. Tiffany, The Law of Real Property § 48 at 70 (3rd ed. 1939), we find the following:  'On the death of a tenant in tail, the land passes to the next heir of the body of the original ...

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