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What is a Blackacre?

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  • Written By: Barbara Wells
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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In real property law, "Blackacre" is a name given to a fictitious piece of land. The term is frequently used in law school as academic symbolism for an estate in land or any piece of real property, particularly when discussing hypothetical issues concerning common law estates, real property conveyances and future interests. Typically, the term Blackacre is used when examining the rights or interests of a party to a piece of land or an estate in land. When more than one estate is necessary to illustrate a point, Blackacre is commonly used to designate a first estate, while "Whiteacre" is used to designate a second.

Use of the term Blackacre has been traced to a 1628 treatise by Sir Edward Coke, an English jurist whose legal texts and treatises became widely influential in the area of common law. Although Sir Edward did not explain the roots of the word, it has been suggested that Blackacre may be associated with the color of specific crops. Whatever its etymology, Blackacre has been described as the most famous piece of land in legal circles. Although the term sometimes appears on bar exam questions, it is most frequently used by property law professors as a pedagogical tool.

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Property law — usually a required subject for first-year law students — encompasses estates in real property and the contingencies placed on conveyances. Hypothetical problems are often posed to property law students wherein an owner of a fictitious tract of land is conveying it to another. For example, a typical law school question on future estates might state: Aiden, owner of Blackacre in fee simple, conveyed it "to my brother Bob for life, with remainder to Chuck." Generally, a student to which this type of question is posed will be asked to discuss the parties' interests. In this context, Blackacre is simply a placeholder name used to denote a theoretical estate in real property.

The term Blackacre is rarely used outside of academic settings; it is a designation given to an imaginary estate when discussing legal concepts relating to real property. In more complex property problems, Whiteacre and Greenacre are placeholder names used to distinguish additional estates in land from Blackacre. Law professors, writers of legal texts and law students use the term to pose questions about or to answer questions about the most common issues arising from future estates, real property conveyances and the contingencies placed on those conveyances.

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