Property ownership can be complicated, particularly if you are making plans and provisions for someone to remain in a property following your death, or for the rest of their life.
Knowing how to remove someone from a life estate is an important element of estate management, as this allows you to protect yourself and your assets if things go wrong.
Read on to learn all you need to know about life estates and the steps you can take to ensure that your property is protected.
What Is A Life Estate?
A life estate is a legal arrangement where the owner of the property gives another person (the tenant) permission to live in the home or land for a specified period of time, essentially making the two individuals joint owners.
The life tenant has ownership of the property for as long as they live, and the other person, the remainderman, will take possession once the life tenant has died.
The term usually refers to a house or apartment, but it can also apply to other types of real estates, such as farmland or commercial buildings.
The remainderman will not be able to take full possession of the property until the life tenant has passed, but they will still have an interest in the property before taking full ownership.
This means that the life tenant is unlikely to have permission to sell the property or take out any loans or mortgages against it without the permission of the remainderman, and both parties will typically have to agree to any changes made to the terms or names attached to the life estate.
Why Are Life Estates Used?
There are a number of reasons why a life estate arrangement may be put in place, and some of the most common include:
- To Protect Assets
When you make arrangements for someone else to live in your home or land during your lifetime, you may want to consider creating a life estate with them so that they can continue living there after you die.
For example, if you own a home and plan to move into a nursing home, you could create a life estate agreement with your children so that they can stay in the home while you are incapacitated.
You would then transfer ownership of the home to them when you pass away.
- To Protect Your Spouse
If you are married, you may wish to create a life estate with your spouse so that he or she can continue living in your home even if you die.
In this case, you would give up ownership of the home to your spouse, who would become the new owner. However, you would retain ownership of the home until your spouse passes away.
- If You Have Children Who Need Help After You Die
Another reason why people might create a life estate with someone else is that they have children who need help after they die.
For example, you may have a child who is disabled and needs constant care, or perhaps you have a child who is struggling financially and cannot afford to pay rent.
If you created a life estate with your child, you would allow them to live in your home for as long as they desire.
Once they were no longer receiving financial support from you, you would transfer ownership of the home back to them.
- To Avoid Probate
Another common reason why people might create life estates is to avoid probate.
When you die, your assets must go through probate before being distributed among your heirs.
This process can take months or years, depending on how complicated your estate is, and it costs money to hire lawyers and accountants to handle the paperwork.
By giving someone else ownership of your home or land, you can avoid having to go through probate and instead leave everything to them directly.
How To Create A Life Estate
There are a few steps you will need to go through to create a life estate, and these include:
1. Selecting The Right Person
You should choose someone who will be willing to accept responsibility for managing your property and paying taxes on it.
They will also need to be responsible enough to manage the property properly and keep it safe once you are gone.
2. Creating The Agreement
Once you have selected the right person, you will need to draft a written agreement outlining all the details of the life estate.
This includes things like what happens to the property if the life tenant dies, whether the life tenant can use the property for their personal benefit, and what happens to the property when the life tenant passes away.
You will likely require the services of an experienced estate lawyer to help you draw up this document and ensure that everything is covered.
You will also need to include key details such as the date of the deed, the name of the parties involved, and the signatures of all parties, including the notary.
How To Remove Someone From A Life Estate
There may be some situations where you have added an individual to a life estate, but later decide that you want to remove them from the arrangement.
Many life estate arrangements are technically irrevocable, as you will need the permission of the other party to change anything about the terms of the agreement.
However, there are ways to modify a life estate without going through the formalities required by law.
The easiest way to remove someone from a life estate is through a Power of Appointment – this is a clause included in the will that will bequeath the property to another named person.
The life estate will still be valid, and the remainderman will still be required to permit for any changes to be made, but a Power of Appointment does give the life tenant greater power in case something goes wrong, and places them in a stronger position.
A life estate can be a great way to protect your assets and ensure that they pass to the right people after you are gone.
It can also provide you with peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be able to live comfortably in your home while you are gone.
Knowing how to remove someone is an important part of the process and will allow you more freedom in the event that the circumstances in your life change.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Life Estate?
A life estate is a legal arrangement that gives one person (the remainderman) the right to live in a house or piece of land once the owner (or life tenant) has passed away.
What Is A Remainderman?
A remainderman is the person who inherits the remaining portion of a property after the death of its original owner.
In most cases, the remainderman will receive the entire value of the property at the time of the owner’s death.
Can I Remove Someone From A Life Estate?
Yes, you can remove someone from a life tenancy. There are two main methods: using a power of appointment, and creating a new contract between the life tenant and the remainderman.
Paul Martinez is the founder of BendingDestiny.com. He is an expert in the areas of finance, real estate, and eCommerce.
Join him on BendingDestiny.com to learn how to improve your financial life and excel in these areas. Before starting this blog, Paul built from scratch and managed two multi-million dollar companies. One in the real estate sector and one in the eCommerce sector.