Experts in Wills and Estates

My Life – My Estate?

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My ex-partner and I parted on good terms about 6 years ago.
He has since passed and in his Will he left me a “Life Estate” to a holiday property that we used to spend time in together. He has children from his first marriage. Can they sell the house without my permission?

If someone receives a Life Estate under a Will it means that they have the right to possession and enjoyment of property, including income from property, for the duration of their life.

A Life Estate is usually created to allow a person to live in a property until their death at which time the property will vest in a person or class of persons named in the Will (called the “remainderman”).

There are many positives to the creation of a Life Estate under a Will. In a time of complex family arrangements a life estate can be used to ensure that the property of the deceased goes to children from a previous marriage whilst also allowing their current spouse the benefit of the property and income derived from the property.

For example if your partner has children from his first marriage. When you both entered a relationship and say decided to sell your house and live in his house.

You kept the proceeds of the sale from your house and make several gifts to family and friends. Your partner and yourself agreed that if he died first you would have the right to reside in the house until your death and after your death the proceeds of sale of the house would be divided equally between your partners children.

There are also negatives involved in the creation of a Life Estate. However difficulties may arise if the relationship between you and your partner’s children is not amicable. In effect, your partner’s children will have no ability to deal with the property until your death unless an agreement is reached between themselves to sell the property to a third party.

Of more importance is that the creation of a Life Estate for a spouse may give rise to an application by the spouse for a family provision order on the basis that the Life Estate is an inadequate provision for their proper maintenance and support. If you are interested in the creation of a Life Estate it is important that you talk to a legal specialist in Wills and Estates about the positives and the negatives of Life Estates. Our expert Wills and Estate Lawyers have advised numerous clients on the advantages and disadvantages of Life Estates including an honest appraisal of whether a Life Estate was appropriate in the client’s circumstances.

Graeme Heckenberg is an expert in his field.
If you are living on the Northern Beaches and surrounding Peninsula and need expert advice in Wills and Estate call for a consultation.

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