Rule in Wild's Case Law and Legal Definition

Rule in Wild's Case is a rule of construction that where lands are devised to a person and his children, and he has children at the time the will is made, and at the death of the testator, the parent and children living at the testator's death take jointly under the will; but, where the devise is to one and his children, and he has no children at the date of the will, or at the testator's death, the parent takes an estate-tail. In short, a grant to “A and A's children” is a fee tail if A's children do not exist at the effective date of the instrument, and as a joint tenancy if A's children do exist at the effective date. However, this rule has been abolished along with the fee tail in most states.

Rule in Wild's Case is an ancient rule of the common law by which, under certain circumstances, the word "children" becomes a word of limitation and equivalent to "heirs of the body"; "(a) The limitation must be in a devise; (b) the form of the limitation must be 'to A and his children', not to A for life, remainder to his children; and (c) A must have no children at the time of the devise". If all these requisites concur, the word "children" is a word of limitation, whereby A takes an estate tail and not a word of purchase whereby the children take jointly with A. [Young v. Munsey Trust Co., 111 F.2d 514, 515-516 (D.C. Cir. 1940)]