Hi, my name is Bill Miller. I am an estate planning and elder law attorney here in Alabama. One of the most common questions we get from people is what is a life estate. A life estate is an interest in property, in real property, where you retain the right to live on the property until you pass away, and then the property transfers to someone else. People use this strategy often to avoid probate so that their real estate does not have to go through the probate process. The probate process can be kind of lengthy and inefficient at times, and so people will use these life estates in order to avoid the probate process.
So basically what happens is if you own real estate and you want to give it to your heirs when you pass away, if you do not want it to go through probate, you can deed it to them now but retain a life estate in the property meaning that you have the right to live there until you pass away. Once you pass away, the property immediately transfers to your heirs that you leave it to in the deed.
One drawback to a life estate is that you do not control the property completely. You have the right to live there, but you cannot sell it without the agreement and signature of the person named on the deed to get it after you pass away.
If you have more questions, I would encourage you to contact me at (256) 237-3339, or visit our website at www.annistonestateplanning.com.