A life estate is an estate whose duration is limited to the life of the person holding it or to the life of someone else. The life tenant has a right of possession and use of land subject to the obligation to the remainderman to preserve the estate.
The life tenant or the remainderman has the power to convey, encumber or lease his interest unless the instrument of creation provides otherwise. The life tenant cannot, absent express power, create any estate that will extend beyond the duration of the measuring life. A remainder, although a future estate, is an estate in land which can be transferred or encumbered in the same manner as present possessory interests. Both remainder and life estates are subject to transfer by operation of law such as by sale under execution.
In order to convey, encumber or lease the absolute fee title to land subject to a life estate, joinder of the life tenant and the remainderman is necessary.
The owner of a life estate may be given the power to sell or otherwise dispose of the fee. Such power may be expressly stated in the creating instrument or inferred from the language used.
A life estate terminates with the death of the person by whose life the estate is
measured. Record title must be conclusively established in the remainderman by recording a certified copy of a decree establishing the fact of death of the person whose life is used to defme the estate or a copy of the death certificate.
A life estate may be terminated by a merger of the estates of the life tenant and the remainderman in one person.
A life estate may terminate on the happening of a condition or on the breach of a condition prescnbed by the creator of the estate as a limitation on its continuance.
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