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John Elder
John Elder, Estate & Elder Law
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 4631
Experience:  Over 14 years experience in Medicaid, Estates, Trust.
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My grandmother passed in Aug. 2012 and had a Life Estate

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My grandmother passed in Aug. 2012 and had a 'Life Estate' agreement (deed filed and recorded in 2008 in the appropriate county and grantee notified) with my mother. My mother passed 2 years (Mar 2010) before my grandmother. Does the Life Estate terminate at the time of my mother's death? If so, did the property revert ownership to the Grantor, in full? Or, does it get transferred to the grantee's heirs of my mother? (Mother was married at the time of her death with no will.) The Executor is my cousin and has only sent us notice of personal belongings distribution and the letter received today about the Life Estate. He doesn't seem sure and thinks 'we' (me and my siblings?) should get together to determine who should get it. Does my step-father get the home? Mother passed in Arkansas and no known will was ever. She had little to nothing for property, insurance or savgings/investments. Additionally, he molested us girls (me from 11-18 years old) of which I have two boys that are his.

Welcome! Thank you for your question.

Can you clarify who had the life estate interest and who owned the remainder interest in the property?


Put another way:

Did your grandmother transfer a life estate interest to your mother or did your grandmother retain a life estate and transfer the remainder interest to your mother?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Sir, thank you for the quick response. I am sending the link to the PDF posted on the deeds site of Spartanburg County, SC.

It was my grandmother's home. Soley in her name. She is the GRantor, my mother is the Grantee. My mother passed in 2010, over two years before my grandmother did.


My name isXXXXX in Riverview, FL. I work at Special Operations Command (SOCOM) at MacDill AFB, FL. I am a named heir in the will (though I have yet to receive a copy of the will and its relationship to this 'Life Estate' agreement between my grandmother and mother.

Great information. Thanks for sending a link to the deed. Looking at the deed, your grandmother gave your mother a "remainder interest" in the property. Your grandmother retained a life estate. This means that your grandmother's life estate interested terminated upon her death. The remainder interest does not terminate at death but a right to own the property after the death of the life estate owner. The remainder interest is a "forever" interest that passes to the heirs of the remainder interest owner.

The property then goes automatically to the remainder interest owner (your mother or her legal heirs) upon the death of your grandmother. It does not pass through your grandmother's estate but passes through your mother's estate to her heirs, upon the death of your grandmother.

With that said, once the property is in your mother's estate it is a bit complex. The property DOES NOT go fully to your step-father. Your step-father receives a 1/3 life estate in the property. You and any siblings you have would be entitled to 2/3 and the full remainder interest which means the full property reverts to you upon his death.

By the way, sorry to hear about your history with your step father. Sounds like you have found a good career. If you are in the military, thank you for serving our country!

I cannot provide you with legal advise. I have provided you with information about the law related to your question. My answer, and any information that you find online, should not take the place of having a consultation with a lawyer in your area to advise you regarding your specific issues.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.



Thank you again for the response. Yes, this is complex. So far, he's made no claim whatsoever to the property. I certainly want to avoid having to deal with him as I've broken away from a broken family to create my own life. Thank you for your kind words. I am not military but support Special Operations Forces around the globe. The Executor's wife wants me to 'threaten him' to give up any interest in the property... something I am not willing to do. Taxes were due so I paid them part of 'staking a claim' but it seems that if I stake a full claim, as the Executor implies, that the title will have to clear appropriately...which may mean dealing with I am torn as to what to do but I will figure it out.