Virginia Life Estate Laws

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Virginia life estate laws are designed to help avoid future problems with estate distribution. A life estate deed gives the grantor the right to transfer the deed to his or her home to another party while continuing to live in the home. Understanding Virginia life estate laws will help ensure that the grantor retains the right to live in his or home until death, while transferring the legal right to ownership of the property to a grantee (life tenant).

Ownership Interest

Virginia life estate law gives the grantor certain rights over the property during his lifetime. While the life estate grantor is no longer the legal owner of the property after the deed is transferred, he may continue to live in the property or rent the property for the remainder of his lifetime. During his life the life estate grantor is responsible for maintaining the property. A remainder interest may be granted to a third party, giving the party ownership of the property if the life tenant (original beneficiary or grantee) passes away after receiving the estate.


The life estate grantor is eligible to receive Virginia homestead exemptions, senior citizen exemptions and any other tax exemption that existed at the time of the time of the deed transfer. The life estate grantor is also responsible for paying all property taxes while residing on the property. Life estate deed transfers are also exempt from probate and reduce the amount of traditional estate taxes. When the grantor passes away, a tax accountant should be consulted to ensure no taxes or fees go unpaid.

Selling the Life Estate

Virginia law gives the life estate grantor the right to sell the property at any time. The life tenant (grantee) may not sell the property or force the grantor to move out of the property. Life estates are also safe from creditors and collection attempts. Neither a creditor or a bankruptcy trustee can seize or sell property transferred using a Virginia life deed.

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