I have a life estate but don’t know what it means

Q; I was left a to life estate in my mom’s will.  My sister is executor of mom’s will and is telling me she inherits mom’s home and her real property. I was left a life estate but don’t know exactly what that means. What are my rights in PA? With life estate can my sister sell the property with me having a life estate? Or, does she have to buy me out? She is complaining about my cats and meddling in my life.

A: I cannot provide exact advice without looking at the estate papers and the deeds. Normally, a life estate permits you to live in the home until you move or die. Normally, a life estate does not convey any ownership to the person who has the life estate. Generally, ownership passes to a remainder person once the person with the life estate dies or vacates the property. It is possible that the life estate just gives you the right to live there, but does not convey ownership to you. Again, these documents should be looked at. I would consult with an estate attorney in your area who can look at the documents.

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