How does a life estate work after the trustee has passed away?

UPDATED: Sep 3, 2011

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How does a life estate work after the trustee has passed away?

My great-grandmother left all of her property to my grandmother in a “life estate” when she passed away in the 1980’s. My grandmother just passed away last year, and left a will leaving all of her property to her surviving spouse. We were just notified that my grandmother’s siblings are contesting by saying the property that was originally my great-grandmother’s, that had been left by “life estate” to my grandmother, was now rightfully theirs. Is this true, or should our family take it to court?

Asked on September 3, 2011 under Estate Planning, Texas


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A life estate gift from one person to another means that the person receiving the gift (such as the right to live in the house for life) only has the benefit of the gift during that person's lifetime and after the person who passes receiving the life estate, the item goes to the remaindermen specified in the will. Example: I leave my house to my son John for life, remainer to his children. This means that John gets to use the house for his lifetime and after he passes, his children inherit the house to do as they wish.

If your great-grandmother gave your grandmother a life estate in some proeprty, then after you grandmother passes, you need to look at your great-grandmother's will to see who ends up receiving the property after your grandmother passes.

Potentially your great uncle(s) or great aunts may be entitled to the property from your great-grandmother.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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