Life Estate

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A Life estate is a present, possessory interest that lasts only as long as the life of a stated person or persons.  A life estate is usually based on the life of the person who receives the estate but it could be based on the life of another person.


When the person who owns the life estate dies:


The estate may return to the original grantor.  If this is the case the grantor has reversionary interests while the owner of the life estate is living.  When the holder of the life estate dies, the estate will revert to the original owner in fee simple.
The estate may go to a 3rd party at the death of the holder of the life estate.  If this is the case, the 3rd party has remainder interest while the holder of the life estate is living.  At the death of the holder of the life estate, the estate will go to the remainderman who will have a fee simple estate.


A common example of the creation of a life estate is:


The parents want the real estate to pass to the children after the surviving spouse dies.
The parents want the surviving spouse to have the land for life without chance that the children will be denied the inheritance.
A will is drawn with each spouse leaving a life estate to the other naming the children as the remaindermen.


Related Topics


Fee Simple

Life Estate

Freehold Estate

Leased Fee

Leasehold Estate

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