Question about wording on old Deed.

UPDATED: May 20, 2009

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Question about wording on old Deed.

If a deed states “Belonging to **** **** and her heirs and assigns to her only use and behoof forever”, Is this the same as a life estate? If the parent has passed what claims to the property do the heirs have if any at all?

Asked on May 20, 2009 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

A life estate is an ownership interest in a piece of property, like a house or a condo, that lasts for the life of a named person, but ends on that person’s death.  With a life estate, someone owns the remainder interest in the property. (This person is sometimes called the remainderman.) That means that after the person with a life estate dies, the owner of the remainder interest will own the full interest in the property.

Here, without seeing the rest of the deed it doesn't seem as if that is the case.  There is no mention of a remainderman and the language of "her heirs and assigns" seems to indicate that a fee simple interest was conveyed; that is that she owned this property outright.  That would mean that the deceased's legal heirs would get the property.

Again, without seeing the whole document in question it's hard to say.  There could also be a reversion or contingent remainder involved.  But that's getting far to complicated for an answer here.

Your best bet is to have the deed reviewed by a real estate attorney in the area where the property is located.

Good luck.

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