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What is a life estate?

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Quick Answer

A life estate is an interest in land that a person only has while he is alive, and it transfers to someone else once he dies, according to the Legal Information Institute. A life estate cannot be given away in a will.

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Full Answer

The property deed of a life estate specifies who the holder of the estate is and who gets the land when the holder dies, explains the Legal Information Institute. The holder can transfer the estate to someone else while he is alive, but that person must transfer the property to the person specified in the deed when the original holder dies. The holder can do what he wishes with the property as long as he leaves it usable for the next person.

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