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Frequently Asked Questions: Real Estate Law

What is life tenant or life tenancy?
The usual situation where a life tenancy comes into existence is in conjunction with estate planning, such as where elderly persons convey their real estate to other persons (often to family members), reserving to themselves a life estate to continue to live in the transferred real estate for the duration of that person’s/grantor’s life. Life tenancies typically allow that person to remain in the property for his or her lifetime, and depending upon the extent and complexity of the language establishing the life tenancy, the life tenant may also continue to reserve the right to collect rents from the property (in the instances of it being a rental or investment property) and as well continue to be responsible for the real estate taxes and the maintenance of the property, and to retain the ability to mortgage the property, if the instrument or deed creating the life tenancy provides for same.

When the life tenant passes away (and assuming that the life tenant did not terminate the life tenancy prior to death, such as by conveying a deed of the life estate interest to the owner), there is also a need to record a death certificate for the life tenant and an Affidavit/Certificate attesting to the fact there were no Massachusetts Estate Taxes due nor Federal Estate Taxes due at the time of the life tenant’s passing.

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