“Life Estate” is a legal term that describes a kind of joint ownership in real estate. It allows one person to hold an interest in and remain in a property until his or her death. However, the holder does not own the property outright in that he or she is not permitted to leave the property to anyone in their will, a trust, or deed.
This is because the holder’s interest in the land does not survive after the person dies. The holder of a life estate is known as a “life tenant.” A life estate can be created by will, trust, or deed.
Let’s say person A is married to person B. Person A owns Blackacre, where A and B both live. Suppose A states in a deed that Blackacre would go to B for life, then to C.
A dies and B is allowed to occupy, possess and enjoy Blackacre. Upon B’s death, the property automatically goes to C, known as the “remainderman.” The remainderman is the person to whom the property is deeded upon the death of the life tenant.
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Creating a life estate by deed may be desirable for any of the following reasons:
If you hold a life estate, you have the following responsibilities:
Life estates disputes are generally resolved through a civil lawsuit. This may result in a damages award issued to either the life tenant or the remainderman, depending on the losses experienced by each.
For example, a fraudulent transfer of a life estate interest can affect both the life tenant and the party whom the life estate is supposed to revert to.
This will usually require a detailed analysis of the deed documents; hence, it’s always best for the deed document to be preserved in writing and recorded with the county office.
Drafting and reviewing life estate deeds and any other real estate documents usually requires the assistance of a lawyer.
If you have any questions or disputes over a life estate deed, you may wish to be matched with a knowledgeable real estate attorney in your area. Your attorney can assist you with the deed documents and can represent you in court if you need to file a legal claim.
Last Modified: 05-15-2018 03:07 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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