Life Estate Definition

The right to the use and enjoyment of certain property (usually real estate) for life only. So someone who inherits a life estate in a house may live in the house for his or her life but has no right to sell it or to leave it at death. Life estates aren't as commonly used as they once were, but are still useful in certain situations. For example, a man in his second marriage might leave a life estate in his house to his surviving wife, with the provision that at her death, it is to go to his children from his previous marriage. (See also: remainderman)