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Rule “against” Perpetuties

Perpetuity Per‘pe*tuȷi*ty, n. [L. perpetuitas: cf. F. perp[‘e]tuit[‘e].] 1. The quality or state of being perpetual; as, the perpetuity of laws.

And yet we should, for perpetuity, go hence in debt. Shakespeare.

Most states have a rule against perpetuities, designed, basically, to keep folks from ruling from the grave.


No interest is good unless it must vest, if at all, not later than twenty-one years after some life in being at the creation of the interest.


is how John Chipman Gray, formulated it in 1886.


One of the purposes of the Rule was to prevent the holders of large, possibly aristocratic estates from being kept in one family for more than one or two generations at a time.


Now legislatures are all too often peopled by politicians who owe their office to the monied gentry. As a result, the Rule has been seriously eroded.


In Nevada, for all intents and purposes, it has been abandoned altogether. Nevada’s Rule Against Perpetuties provides:

NRS 111.1031 Statutory rule against perpetuities.
1. A nonvested property interest is invalid unless:
(a) When the interest is created, it is certain to vest or terminate no later than 21 years after the death of a natural person then alive; or
(b) The interest either vests or terminates within 365 years after its creation.

The name of the Rule, however inappropriate, however Orwellian, has survived. Had this been the law when Nevada became a state, restrictions on the alienation of land imposed in November of 1864 could still be wrecking commerce in Nevada.


Bill Gates can now rest easy. Microsoft can keep its ill-gotten gains, and can continue to grind its heel into Wordperfect, etc. until at least the year 2384.


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