Conventional life estates
As soon as the person, on whose life the life estate is based, has died, the life estate ends. However, as explained below, that person doesn't have to be the life tenant.
- Ordinary life estates. When the life estate is based on the life of the owner of the life tenant, it is called an ordinary life estate. When the life tenant dies, the real property either reverts back to the grantor and heirs (reversionary interest) or to a third party (remainder interest).
- Pur autre vie. This French term meaning "for the life of another," is self-explanatory. This life estate is based on the life of someone other than the life tenant. The life estate thus continues as long as that "other person" is alive. When that other person dies, the property either reverts to the grantor (or grantor's heir) or to a third party (remainder interest).
A common example of an ordinary life estate is when a man dies and leaves his estate to his wife in a life estate that stipulates a remainder interest to their children. When the wife eventually dies, the life estate transfers all interests to their children. At this point, their children would probably own the property with a fee simple absolute estate.
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