Life Estate

By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD

A "Life Estate" is a right given to a person to use a particular asset during their life after which the asset passes to a designated person. Perhaps the most common life estate is when a person gives a second spouse the right to live in their home and on their death the house passes to their children from a prior marriage. Another common life estate is when an elderly person deeds (transfers) their home to a trust or their children, but retains for themselves the right to continue living in the house (called a retained life estate).

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