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Should trustee deed a life estate in real property to a beneficiary, or hold the property in trust for duration of life estate?

San Marcos, CA |

There are 5 beneficiaries total. 2 of them have a life estate in a residence and all 5 of them have the remainder. Would it be better to keep the property in the trust for the duration of the life estate? Or should the trustee transfer the life estates and remainders through a deed?

Attorney Answers 3


A question of this nature requires substantially more information to arrive at a viable answer. Here is the general rule. The disposition of any property is a function of the power vested in the Trustee of the trust which must be exercised in accord with the terms of the trust agreement AND as a fiduciary (highest standard of care) to the ALL beneficiaries. Which option to consider must be decided within this context. Look to the trust agreement for guidance, e.g. was the life estate given with the trust to cover all expenses of the property? Is the beneficiary recipient responsible for mortgage payments and maintenence expense? What is in the best interest of all the beneficiaries? I recommend you seek competent legal counsel to review the trust agreement within the context of your question and to advise the Trustee as to the best course of action. Hope this helps.

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Steve S Baghoomian

Steve S Baghoomian


Fantastic answer.


I'm not certain I understand the reason for the question, but I am troubled by the possiblilty of the Trustee underminng specific provisions of the Trust. On its face it appears simple, Trust grants life estate to the 2, and remainder interest to the 5, trust terminates and Trustee no longer has responsibility to administer property as trust asset, but ... a thorough review of the Trust document would be required to ensure the Trustee could do so without other problematic implications.

For example, what are the contigent beneficiary designations, and how would those be impacted by distribution and termination of the Trust?

Review and consultation with a lawyer in your area is warranted before proceeding with any transfer.

Please note that this answer is generic in nature and does not constitute legal advice with regard to any particular circumstances or facts and does not establish an attorney client relationship.

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Both of the other answers are reasonable and give sound advice. But if the trust does not indicate that the Trust has an ongoing role in administering the gift of the residence during the 2 beneficiaries' lives, I would recommend that you deed the property to the 5 beneficiaries subject to the life estate. If nothing else you can closeout the trust then and get the need for a trustee (and associated costs) out of the picture.

Answering this question with general knowlege of the law does not create an attorney client relationship and attorney cannot be held responsible for how the questioner uses this information.

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