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Understanding life estates

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2023 | Estate Planning |

A life estate is a type of real estate ownership that allows the owner to retain possession of the property for the duration of their life. After their death, the property passes on to the designated beneficiary or the person specified in a will. Life estates have a number of benefits, making them an attractive option for Maryland residents.

Estate planning

Life estates can be a useful tool for estate planning. By creating a life estate, the owner can ensure that their property will pass on to their chosen beneficiaries after their death, rather than being distributed according to the laws of intestacy. This can provide peace of mind and help to avoid potential disputes over the distribution of assets.

Avoids probate

Probate is a legal process that is required to distribute a person’s assets after their death. It can be time-consuming and expensive, and it can also be emotionally draining for the beneficiaries. With a life estate, the property passes on to the designated beneficiary outside of probate, saving time and money.

Income generation

Life estates can also provide an income-generating opportunity for the owner. They can sell their life estate to a third party for a lump sum payment, which can provide a source of income for the rest of their life. This can be particularly useful for older people who are looking for ways to supplement their retirement income.

Medicaid eligibility

For those who are in need of long-term care and are concerned about preserving their assets, life estates can be a useful tool. By transferring ownership of their property into a life estate, they can become eligible for Medicaid, which can provide financial assistance for long-term care.


Life estates are flexible and can be designed to meet the specific needs of the owner. For example, they can be structured to provide for the maintenance of the property during the owner’s lifetime and to ensure that the beneficiary will have sufficient resources to maintain the property after the owner’s death.