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What is a Life Estate?

Life Estate Protects Loved One

When a person gives a life estate to a beneficiary, the beneficiary is entitled to possess and occupy property  (usually real estate) for the length of her life.  It is common for an unmarried couple to leave a life estate to a partner.  Once the partner passes away, the property is given to the final beneficiary named in the same document in which the life estate was given. Life estates are commonly distributed through a trust document.

How Does a Life Estate Work?

For example, one widowed testator might want to provide for his sister and also leave assets to his children.  He can leave a life estate in his home to his sister and still leave the property to his children.  This provides his sister a place to live until she dies. She cannot then leave the home to her own children because she doesn’t have the authority to transfer or sell the home. The testator’s children will receive the property according to the testator’s original gift.

Getting Legal Help

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Elga Goodman can help you prepare a thorough estate plan which includes thoughtful drafting of trusts to reach your estate planning goals. Contact us today at 973-841-5111.

Posted in: Estate Planning, New York Estate Planning