Dolgetta Law

Can I Sell My House If My Father Owns a Life Estate?

Life estates during the past twenty years, have become a significant estate planning and elder law planning device. The complexities of a life estate however, can create significant problems for the person who is to receive the fee interest after the death of the life tenant. Without the consent of the life tenant and the execution of a deed releasing the life estate, the property cannot be sold.

What is a “Life Estate”?

A “life estate” is an interest in real property the duration of which is limited to the life of an individual. That individual can be the person holding the life estate or it can be based upon the life of another person. The latter is referred to as a life estate pur autre vie (for another life). It lasts for as long as the life of the designated person continues. For example, a parent states  in his will, “I leave my house to my son, John as long as my mother, Josephine is alive.” In this circumstance, John would not become the fee owner until the death of Josephine, his grandmother.

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