Seattle, WA asked in Real Estate Law for Arizona

Q: How do I go about selling a piece of property with a life estate attached to it?

I have a buyer who is willing to accept the life estate that the 86 year old woman who lives there has.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Kai Michael Henderson
Kai Michael Henderson

A: This will generally work the same as any other real estate transaction, with the exception that the sales contract and deeds will reflect the presence of a life estate. Without knowing too much concerning the details, you simply sell your "vested remainder" that it is understood you possess. The deed(s) will reflect that the current occupant has a life estate and that the interest you are selling is subject to that life estate. The contract will reflect that the buyer knew that he was getting a "vested remainder" but you might also want to confirm his understanding in an email.

Brad Denton
Brad Denton
  • Mesa, AZ
  • Licensed in Arizona

A: To answer your question, I would need to know exactly what you are trying to sell and where it is located.

If you hold the life estate either for the life of the 85 year old or are selling the life estate of the 85 year old it is the same as any real estate transaction. Just make sure you make it clear that you are only transferring the life estate in the transaction. This is typically noted on the deed, it would just state the person has a life estate for the life the 85 year old.

If you are the person who gets the property when the person with the life estate passes away, (called a remainderman) how many remaindermen are there and are they all wanting to sell?

Both the life estate holder, or the remainderman can sell what they own, but it is still subject to the life estate and you would want to make that clear in the transaction by having it noted on any deed or contract that is issued.

If the person with the life estate and the remainderman are both willing to participate in the sale then you can sell the property and have it cleared of the life estate.

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