Q: Enhanced life estate deed
My mom and my aunt on a property together that is zoned as a duplex on the same lot. They wrote up an enhanced life estate deed with a lawyer stating that I would get 50% and my cousin will get 50%. My question is upon their death me and my cousin or the remainders, but does that mean that in the end which ever one of us ends up passing first the last person to stay alive? Are they the ones that end up keeping the entire house? How does that work in the case of a duplex that has different addresses on the same lot who ends up as the remainder with that person end up with the entire house 100% being theirs?
A: Thanks for your question! An attorney would need to take a look at the deed to confirm my answer, but based on the facts that you have provided, you and your cousin would be remainder beneficiaries as tenants in common (not with survivorship between the two of you). This means that you would each own an undivided one-half interest in the entire property, not one duplex each. You are essentially co-owners of the entire property, and you can leave your undivided one-half interest to your heirs and so can your cousin. Only by the two of you signing a new deed after you are the co-owners -- from the two of you as tenants in common back to the two of you as joint tenants with rights of survivorship-- would the property then pass to the survivor of the two of you instead of each of your one-half interests to each of your heirs. Once the current owners have passed away and you and your cousin are co-owners, If you wish to pass your one-half interest to someone in particular, then you can either execute your own enhanced life estate deed naming the remainder beneficiary of your choice to receive your one-half interest OR you could make a will which would require probate of your one-half interest.
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