life estate

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Life Estate

An estate whose duration is limited to the life of the party holding it, or some other person.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

life estate

n. the right to use or occupy real property for one's life. Often this is given to a person (such as a family member) by deed or as a gift under a will with the idea that a younger person would then take the property upon the death of the one who receives the life estate. Title may also return to the person giving or deeding the property or to his/her surviving children or descendants upon the death of the life tenant--this is called "reversion." Example of creation of a life estate: "I grant to mother, Molly McCree, the right to live in and/or receive rents from said real property, until her death," or "I give my daughter, Sadie Hawkins, said real property, subject to a life estate to my mother, Molly McCree." This means a woman's mother, Molly, gets to live in the house until she dies, then the woman's daughter, Sadie, will own the property.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

life estate

an estate of freehold that exists for the duration of the life of the grantee. If the grantee should assign his interest, that taken by the assignee is referred to as an estate pur autre vie (i.e. ‘an estate for the life of someone else’, namely the original grantee). Since 1925 a life estate can exist only as an equitable interest behind a trust.

See INSURABLE INTEREST, INSURANCE.

Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
The majority of life estates will run until the life tenants die, in which case the remaindermen will succeed to the entire interest in the property.
Editor's Note: This is the first in a two-part series discussing the planning opportunities afforded by deed transfers with a retained life estate. The second part will run next month.
The court declined to extend the doctrine of acceleration to the situation of a life estate created by operation of the homestead laws.
Actuarial tables provide that a life estate for an individual aged 80 is $0.40710 for each $1.00 of property transferred.
While the focus above has been on life estates, remainder interests also may be difficult to value or be incapable of valuation.
Example 2: N placed property in trust, retaining a life estate in trust income with the remainder to his daughter M or to her estate.
* Life Estate and Enhanced Life Deeds Offer Viable Alternatives to a Titleholder Who Wants to Retain Ownership or Control Over Real Property, But Also Wants to Avoid Leaving the Burden of Probate on His or Her Heirs--Property owners often want to retain possession and control of their real estate while they are alive, which is usually the motive for not delivering deeds conveying title to the grantees until after their death.
Life estates are common in rural areas where parents sell their property to their children and retain a life estate in the buildings and a small acreage around the structures.
Contributors may choose to give through their wills, life insurance policies, life estates, trusts or annuities, or through other methods, which can include:
Besides conservation restrictions, other land protection tools include donating or selling the land to the town or a land trust; a bargain sale of land; bequests; reserved life estates in which the landowner retains ownership for a specified time; and limited development, in which houses are clustered on smaller lots surrounded by preserved open space.
Arrangements to which this subsection applies include arrangements involving life estates, estates for years, and insurance and annuity contracts." (1)
In order to avoid inclusion under Code section 2036 (i.e., prohibition against retained life estates) of the underlying partnership assets (rather than the partnership itself) a donor or decedent should adhere to all partnership formalities and should not: (1) put virtually everything they own in the partnership; (2) retain complete control over the income of the partnership; and (3) use the partnership to pay personal expenses (see also, page 427).