Planning for Life

Remaindermen Cannot Force Sale of Property in Life Estate

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on August 5, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


Owners of real estate sometimes transfer such property to their children while retaining the right to live in the property for the rest of their lives. Such ownership interests are referred to as "life estates" and give the life estate owners the exclusive right to occupy and even rent out the property during their lives. The children, in this case, are referred to as "remaindermen" and they have a real interest in the property, just no right of possession until the life estate owner dies.

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Topics: MassHealth planning, life estate

How Does MassHealth Calculate Life Estates?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 12, 2019

By Harry S. Margolis


Life estates have long been a prime long-term care planning device for protecting the home from MassHealth estate recovery because they're quite simple to create. MassHealth recently changed its rules in terms of how it measures life estates when they are created or when property held in a life estate is sold.

What is a Life Estate?

A life estate is a form of joint ownership of real estate where ownership interests are divided by time. The so-called "life tenant" has the right to occupy the property during his or her life and to collect any rental income earned from the property. The life tenant also has the obligation of maintaining the property.

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Topics: MassHealth planning, MassHealth, life estate

Life Estate Owners: Beware Solvency of Remaindermen - Massachusetts

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 2, 2013


By Harry S. Margolis

In Gordon v. Pappalardo (BAP No. MW 12-60, March 13, 2013), the U.S. Bankruptcy Panel for the First Circuit confirmed a Bankruptcy Court decision that holders of a remainder interest in real estate in Massachusetts do not qualify for homestead protection.

Life Estates

A life estate is a common form of real estate ownership often used for estate and long-term care planning purposes. Typically, parents will execute a deed reserving a life estate and granting a remainder interest to their children. As a result, both the parents and the children own an interest in the real estate, but the parents have the full right of possession during their lives. This means that only the parents have the legal right to live in the property; they would receive the income if the property were rented out; and they are responsible for its upkeep and maintenance. At the parents' death, the property passes automatically to their children, who are called the "remaindermen."

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Topics: long-term care planning, asset protection, Estate Planning, life estate

What is a Life Estate and Why Would You Want One? - Massachusetts

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 9, 2012

By Harry S. Margolis


What is a life estate?

            The term “life estate” refers to property that is owned by an individual only through the duration of his or her lifetime. Therefore, it’s always for an indefinite period of time.  We usually encounter life estates when dealing with real estate. When you have a life estate, you are called the “life tenant.” For example, you can sell or give your home to your children, but retain a “life estate,” thereby reserving the right to live in, use, rent out, and control the home until you die. In this instance, your children would be called the “remaindermen.”   Even though they don't have the legal right to enter the property, they do have an ownership interest in it, which they can transfer or sell (assuming they can find a buyer).

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Topics: long-term care planning, Estate Planning, life estate

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