1. A life estate is the right to use and enjoy property during the life of the person possessing the life estate.
a. Possession = holding the interest in the life estate
b. Life Estate is literally an estate for the life of the grantee.
c. Grantee’s right to possession and right to devise his right to possession terminate with grantee’s death.
a. Magic word for a life estate is “to A for life”
b. Life Estate has replaced the Fee Tail as a device to control inheritance.
i. Controlling inheritance = keeping land in the family
c. Life Estate in personal property is possible.
3. Restraint on Alienation
a. Life Estates (and the Fee Tail) are Restraints on Alienation
i. Arguments for this restraint
1. Keeps land “in the family”
ii. Arguments against this restraint
1. Restraint on Alienation makes the property unmarketable
2. Restraints tend to perpetuate the concentration of wealth by making it impossible for the owner to sell property and consume the proceeds of the sale.
a. Restraints limit the possessor using the property to its highest and best use.
b. The accumulation of wealth is dependent on the quality of the investment.
3. discourages improvements on land
4. Restraints prevent the owner’s creditors from reaching the property
a. Not always the case, now only statute allows creditors to get to your property.
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