What does "Pur Autre Vie" Mean?

C. K. Lanz
C. K. Lanz
Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

In property law, pur autre vie describes the duration of a specific type of life estate typically created when a life estate holder conveys his or her interest to someone else. It is a French phrase meaning for the life of another, so a life estate pur autre vie would last as long as another’s life. For example, if person A holds a life estate measured by her own life and then sells or otherwise transfers her interest to person B for the rest of person C’s life, B now has a life estate pur autre vie. Person B’s estate ends when person C dies.

An estate includes a person’s legal rights, entitlements, and interests to any kind of property. A person who owns a house and the land it sits on actually owns a bundle of rights concerning the land and house. The ownership of an estate can be split into divisions of time; there can be one present owner and a designated future owner of one piece of property, for example. Duration is what distinguishes the different types of estates.

A life estate lasts only as long as the holder is alive. When the holder dies, the estate ends. A life estate holder is also called a life tenant and can designate a future owner who will take possession of the estate upon the holder’s death. This future owner retains a future interest in the life estate.

When the life of someone other than the life estate holder is used to measure the duration of the life estate, it is a life estate pur autre vie. The holder of a life estate pur autre vie can devise or allow it to pass to heirs by intestate succession. A regular life estate is not transmittable by will or capable of being transmitted from ancestors but can be alienated.

In the case of a life estate pur autre vie, the future interest that follows is either a reversion or a remainder. If John gives Bill his car for life, then John retains a reversion. When a third party holds the future interest, it is called a remainder. For example, John gives Bill his car for life and then to Mark. Mark, a third party, holds the future interest or remainder in John’s car.

There are several ways to create a life estate pur autre vie. Destroying a contingent remainder or a remainder not already vested can result in establishing a life estate pur autre vie, A contingent remainder is one that has been granted to an unborn person or is a remainder made contingent on some event other than the natural end of the preceding estate.

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