You have many different options for leaving your assets to your heirs. Sometimes the different methods and instruments can get confusing for non-attorneys. One method that does not have to be difficult to understand is a life estate.
With a life estate, you can give property to one person to use for as long as he or she is alive. After that person passes away, the property goes to someone else. Usually, this is used for real property. You might want to give a life estate to your spouse in the family home and then leave it to your children from a previous marriage after the spouse passes away. A life estate is a way to do that. A life estate isn’t the only way to do that and it’s not the best option for everyone. It is, however, usually the simplest way.
Life estates are not limited to real property. That’s just their most common use. You can use the same tool with personal property. Whether a life estate is right for your estate plan is something that you should decide only after talking to an experienced estate planning attorney. For example, if there is a possibility that the house might need to be sold, a life estate can complicate that process and even make it impossible. Talk to your estate planning attorney about life estates.
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