In honor of my midterms, coming up this week, I thought I'd post an example of a multiple choice question. Nobody has to try and answer it, I'm sure very few of you have even heard of the rule against perpetuities, but I did want to illustrate how complex these questions are. I have midterms in Torts, Contracts and Criminal Law, so it seems fitting that I post a Property question here:
Grande died leaving a will which, among others, contained the following clause:
CLAUSE X - I hereby devise my realty located on Main Avenue to my wife for life, remainder to those of my children who achieve the age of twenty-one years. If any child of mine shall predecease me, or if any child of mine shall survive me but shall die before achieving the age of twenty-one years, that child's share shall be distributed equally among any of that child's children who shall marry, but if such child of mine shall die without issue, then his or her share shall be distributed among my children who achieve the age of twenty-one years.
at the time of grande's death, he had no grandchildren, and was survived by three children: Alice who was eighteen years of age, Burton who was nineteen years of age, and Carrie who was twenty-two years of age. Two years after Grande's death, Alice gave birth to a child whom she named Gretchen. One week after Gretchen's birth, Alice died at the age of twenty. Burton was twenty-one years of age, and Carrie was twenty-four.
If Gretchen marries at the age of eighteen, will she be entitled to share the Main Avenue property?
A. Yes, because her interest vested within 21 years after the death of Grande.
B. Yes, because her interest vested within 21 years after the death of Alice.
C. No, because at the time of Grande's death it was possible that Gretchen's interest would not vest until more than 21 years after the deaths of Alice, Burton, and Carrie.
D. No, because at the time of Alice's death it was possible that a grandchild would subsequently be born who would marry more than 21 years after the deaths of ALice, Burton and Carrie.
My midterms consist of 20 questions, 40 minutes. that means 2 minutes per question, like the one above. now. clearly the rule against perpetuities has something to do with 21 years, right? so what is this question? it's a logic problem, a game. In fact, most of property law (and much of contract law) amounts to a logic game, which is actually good because once I realized that it became much easier to solve problems like this. know the rules, apply them to the facts. break up the problem into smaller parts, and the question becomes much easier.
Incidentally, the answer is C. I don't have nearly enough space to explain why though. Just bear in mind that the rule against perpetuities is concerned with possibilities at the time the testator (guy who draws the will) dies. that means that Gretchen was not even alive at that time, so not a possibility yet. beyond that I will not go because I'm not sure I can explain it (although I think I am beginning to understand it, at least I am getting problems like this one correct).
Doesn't this look fun?