Entail Law and Legal Definition
Entailment, or entail, is a restriction limiting the inheritance of property to a specified succession of heirs. It is typically created by words of grant in a deed, such as "to A and the heirs of his body", which restricts heirs to the children begotten by the landowner. In another example, "fee tail male," specifies that only sons can inherit, and "fee tail female," which means only daughters can inherit.
The purpose of entail is to protect large estates in land from the disintegration that is caused by equal inheritance by all the heirs and by the ordinary right of free alienation of property interests. Originally practiced in New York and the South, entail was largely prohibited, along with primogeniture (inheritance by only the eldest son), throughout the United States before 1800.