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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 102142
Experience:  Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
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Trying to find definition of life estate with powers, i.e.

Customer Question

trying to find definition of life estate with powers, i.e. what are" powers" as recognized by District of Columbia.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note:This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

This depends. Do you mean that you are asking what are the powers of the Executor/Administrator to the estate in Washington, DC? Or what exactly are you asking, or, what are you attempting to achieve?

This is not an answer, but an information request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
executed a deed transferring sole ownership from the life tenant, who has full powers of disposition(except by Last Will and Testament, to herself. Remainderperson was sister who was deceased. DC ROD noted that this could not be done except by a personal representative deed. Confused as to what full power of disposition includes if not to sell, convey, gift,etc.Hope this helps to clarify. If not, peraps we can speak by phone.[
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. Allow me to explain.

A life tenancy has two people "owning" the property. Ownership in a property is called an "interest." The two interests in a life estate situation are:

1) The life estate tenant; and

2) The remainderman.

The life estate tenant can live on the property, lease the property out, etc, but cannot sell it. (They can however sell their life estate interest.) Once the life estate tenant dies, the property goes to the remainderman.

If the remainderman dies before the life estate tenant, the interest in the property that she had goes to the remainderman's legal heirs unless the instrument (document/deed) that was used to create the life estate or the remainderman's will specifically gives the remainderman's interest back to the life estate tenant if the remainderman dies before the life estate tenant.

Are you with me? I know it is a bit convoluted - let me know if I can rephrase this another way.

Assuming the instrument used to create the life estate and/or the remainderman's Will do not give the remainderman's interest to the life estate tenant, then once the remainderman dies, the life estate tenant still only has that life estate only... and the remainder goes to the remainderman's heirs once the life etate holder dies.

What it sounds like is that the life estate holder was attempting to transfer WHOLE ownership of the property, but they can only transfer the life estate. So the life estate holder cannot transfer the whole property.

Now, if the instrument used to create the life estate and/or the remainderman's Will DO give the remainderman's interest to the life estate tenant, then the Executor/Administrator/Personal Representative of the estate of the remainderman can use a special kind of deed called a Personal Representative Deed (also called an executor's deed) during probate to transfer the remainder from the estate of the remainderman to the life estate holder, giving them in effect 100% of the property. Then the life estate tenant - now simply a full owner of the property - can transfer the deed to whomever they want.

Good luck.

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