In essence, you are correct. The person listed first has a "life estate" in the property. He/she generally has exclusive use of the property until death, and then title is vested in the remaindermen. However, there are restrictions on what the "life tenant" can do with the property during their life. Actions that impair the value of the property or the interest of the remaindermen are not permitted, and the remaindermen can seek a court order to oppose them.
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They are both owners, in that they each have part of the bundle of rights that constitutes fee simple ownership. Each must respect the rights of the other. The life tenant cannot destroy or dissipate the property so that the remainderman receives less. The remainderman cannot take possession until the life tenant dies.
Clifford L Tuttle, Jr
Attorney at Law
The foregoing answer does not constitute legal advice and does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Answers are based upon the facts stated and may change if there are additional facts not contained in the question.
To be specific, upon the creation of this arrangement, by Deed, the life tenant has a present right to use and enjoy the entire real estate until the date of his or her death. The remainder person does not "inherit" anything. Instead, the remainder person has been presently given absolute ownership in the real estate which is only triggered by a future event. That event being the death of the life tenant.