A life estate is a type of ownership interest connected to a second type of ownership interest. The life estate holder of the property has full ownership interests with exceptions during the life of a designated person. The designated life on which the interest is based can be the life of the interest holder or the life of another. When the death of the designated life occurs, the life estate ends, and the ownership interest goes to the remainderman.
Individuals can own a life estate in real estate and in personal property (non-real estate property). A life estate in real estate can be created by deed or by law. "Life estate deeds" and "lady bird deeds" are commonly referred to as deeds that create life estate interests in real property.
Special Note for Heirs Property:
Families and individuals should give special consideration to the usefulness of life estates in planning for multiple generations of family real estate ownership. It is also important to understand whether state law where the heirs property is located creates a life estate for inherited property for any surviving relative, such as a spouse.