Legal life estate
An interest in real property held for the life of the life tenant or of another person, involuntarily created through operation of law following the occurrence of certain events such as marriage or the purchase of a home. The three primary types of legal life estates are dower and curtesy, both of which are created marriage; and homestead exemptions, which are created by purchasing a home as a primary residence.
In some states in the United States a property owner must file a notice that a qualifying event has occurred in order for a legal life estate to be created. This is usually the only action necessary on the part of the owner to form a legal life estate. In other states, no action is necessary and the estate is created automatically.
See also dower, curtesy, and homestead.
Added: Wed Jun 25 2008