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In property law, pur autre vie describes the duration of a specific type of life estate typically created when a life estate holder conveys his or her interest to someone else. It is a French phrase meaning for the life of another, so a life estate pur autre vie would last as long as another’s life. For example, if person A holds a life estate measured by her own life and then sells or otherwise transfers her interest to person B for the rest of person C’s life, B now has a life estate pur autre vie. Person B’s estate ends when person C dies.
An estate includes a person’s legal rights, entitlements, and interests to any kind of property. A person who owns a house and the land it sits on actually owns a bundle of rights concerning the land and house. The ownership of an estate can be split into divisions of time; there can be one present owner and a designated future owner of one piece of property, for example. Duration is what distinguishes the different types of estates.
A life estate lasts only as long as the holder is alive. When the holder dies, the estate ends. A life estate holder is also called a life tenant and can designate a future owner who will take possession of the estate upon the holder’s death. This future owner retains a future interest in the life estate.
When the life of someone other than the life estate holder is used to measure the duration of the life estate, it is a life estate pur autre vie. The holder of a life estate pur autre vie can devise or allow it to pass to heirs by intestate succession. A regular life estate is not transmittable by will or capable of being transmitted from ancestors but can be alienated.
In the case of a life estate pur autre vie, the future interest that follows is either a reversion or a remainder. If John gives Bill his car for life, then John retains a reversion. When a third party holds the future interest, it is called a remainder. For example, John gives Bill his car for life and then to Mark. Mark, a third party, holds the future interest or remainder in John’s car.
There are several ways to create a life estate pur autre vie. Destroying a contingent remainder or a remainder not already vested can result in establishing a life estate pur autre vie, A contingent remainder is one that has been granted to an unborn person or is a remainder made contingent on some event other than the natural end of the preceding estate.
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