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Dan
Dan, Retired Atty
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 1164
Experience:  Years of private practice that included residential and commercial real estate transactions.
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What is Life Estate (with reservation of full powers) on

Resolved Question:

What is "Life Estate (with reservation of full powers)" on a Deed?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Dan replied 5 years ago.
Hi -

This is a type of deed that is typically used when one party wants to transfer ownership to another party but still live in the house. Picture that a parent was getting older and wanted to be sure that the property transfered to their child, so they might execute this type of deed.

Before explaining this further, think about situations where someone might own property but not have the right to live in it. For instance, I could own a house but have leased the right to occupy the house to someone else. The idea behind a life estate deed is along that line.

The end result of a life estate deed is that the person with the retained life estate owns the right to live in the property for the rest of his/her/their life but not the title to the property, while someone else (the person who was the grantee under the deed, typically) owns the title to the real estate itself but not the right to occupy the property. When the person who was the holder of the life estate dies (or otherwise voluntarily gives up the life estate), then the right to occupy the property reverts back to the party that holds the title, so they end up own the real property outright (we call that "in fee simple" - which is the way most people own their residences, etc.).


I hope that it has been at least somewhat helpful. Please let me know if you have any followup questions. If none, please remember to click on the ACCEPT link so that I may receive credit for working on this topic with you. (I'd greatly appreciate it!)


Thank you,

Dan

--------------

The information provided is general in nature only and shall not be construed as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.

PS: If an answer appears to you to have been very helpful, or to have taken above average expertise, and/or research, or if the answer shows an above average amount of time and dedication devoted to your issue, a bonus is nice way to say "Thank you". Thanks!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Please explain "with reservation of full powers" connected to the life estate.

Exerpt of Deed as follows: Being the same parcel which was subject of a life estate (with reservation of full powers) by Jane N. unto Barbara, William and Bruce by deed dated .... and recorded among the Land Records of A.A.Co.
Expert:  Dan replied 5 years ago.
When we prepare life estate deeds, we are stuck with a drafting problem: you either have to get very detailed about exactly what rights the holder of the life estate retains and how all those legal details will work out (which could go on for pages - just think of how long mortgages, promissory notes and offers to purchase can get), or you take a short cut and relay on the large body of legal tradition to define who does what and who has what legal rights.

In your case (and this happens often), the party who drafted the life estate deed chose to rely on the large body of legal tradition to define the rights of the life tenant, by simply saying they retained the life estate "with reservation of full powers". What that tells me is that the life tenant had the exclusive right to occupy the property for his/her life, along with the right and obligation to maintain the property, pay property taxes, and insure the property. There is always a question of who is obligated to take care of capital improvements - such as if the roof needs to be repaired - so that kind of thing can be a point of contention if the life estate holder and the remainderman are not on great terms. If the property is income producing, the life tenant typically also has the right to the property's income for his/her life.

(I'm not sure what other examples to give without knowing what might be the exact points of contention in your situation.)

From the excerpt you provided, it looks like you are referencing a different deed than the original one created the life estate. Perhaps the original grantee/remainderman transferred their interest in the property to someone else? If the original life estate holder is still alive, then the transfer remains subject to that original life estate. If that party has since passed away, then the title should be free and clear of that life estate. Because the life estate holder and the grantee/remainderman hold distinctly different and separate rights, they may each transfer their respective interests to someone else without needing the permission of the other party. It doesn't change the underlying relationship, not that the life estate terminates at the time of death of the original life tenant.

I hope I'm getting closer to answering your question. Sometimes it is difficult to zero in on what you need to know without knowing what the circumstances are that are giving rise to the question, so if it seems that I'm not quite getting to what you need to know, perhaps it would help to give a little more background detailed.

Please let me know if you have any followup questions. If none, please remember to click on the ACCEPT link so that I may receive credit for working on this topic with you. (I'd greatly appreciate it!)

Thank you,Dan

The information provided is general in nature only and shall not be construed as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.

PS: If an answer appears to you to have been very helpful, or to have taken above average expertise, and/or research, or if the answer shows an above average amount of time and dedication devoted to your issue, a bonus is nice way to say "Thank you".

Thanks!
Dan, Retired Atty
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 1164
Experience: Years of private practice that included residential and commercial real estate transactions.
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