Pastor, Church & LawMember access only

by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Reversion of Church Property to the Prior Owner

§ 7.14
Key point 7-14. Some deeds to church property contain a "reversion" clause stating that title will revert back to the previous owner in the event that a specified condition occurs. The courts will enforce such provisions, so long as they can do so without interpreting church doctrine.

Property owners sometimes sell or give property to a church with a deed specifying that the property will revert to the previous owner if the church violates a specified condition. For example, a deed may convey title to a church "for so long as the property is used for church purposes." Or, a deed may convey title to a church "for so long as the property is used as a Baptist church." Such deeds vest only a "determinable" or "conditional" title in the church, since title will immediately revert back to the previous owner (or such person's heirs or successors) by operation of law upon a violation of the condition. ...

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