Do siblings have legal right to property if it is in a life estate?

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Do siblings have legal right to property if it is in a life estate?

My parents deeded me their house and land in 1997 and retained a life estate to the house and 1 acre. I have 5 siblings and 3 of them have been deeded property already. Do the other 2 siblings have legal rights to any of the real estate upon the death of my parents. As far as I know my parents do not have a Will.

Asked on February 15, 2011 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your parents gave you a gift of land and retained a life estate.  This is not uncommon.  What you are afraid of is that your siblings will try and set aside the transfer.  Generally speaking, parents are not obligated to leave their children anything under a Will or otherwise when they pass away.  If, however, they die without a last Will and Testament - intestate - then the intestacy laws assume that there was a relationship that would benefit from receiving the proceeds of the estate.  Setting aside a transfer such as you have here is not easy, especially if your parents were of sound mind when doing so.  But I might consult with an estate planning attorney about the laws in your state and discussing a Will that specifically excludes your siblings or leaves them some other belongings.  Good luck.


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