Many who are nearing the end of their lives want to give away their properties that they own. There are numerous reasons to give land to others, whether just passing it on to another member of the family so that the land will not be lost or selling it to them to reduce debt. Often, people want to make their property into a gift before they have actually passed away, as they set up a plan for the rest of their estate.
The trouble with this is that they may not want to relinquish their right to live on the land. Typically, when land is transferred from one person to the next, the person who receives it then has full legal control over it, including control over who can live there.
One solution that those in Massachusetts may want to use while doing their estate planning is simply to write everything up in a way that declares which rights they will be retaining. The gift can then be made whenever they desire, but they do not have to turn over all rights, as they would if they sold it outright to a third party. They could put in a provision saying that they are offering the gift to a friend or family member on the strict condition that they are allowed to keep living in the home until the time of their death, at which time the full rights will pass to the new owner.
It is important for people to understand how these provisions work when making an estate plan so that they do not accidentally give away rights that they wanted to retain.
Source: Source: Mass Live, “Ask the Experts: Life estate could allow property giver to remain,” Michael S. Grove, July 3, 2014
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