Recent reviews of two fact situations, hundreds of miles apart and both the products of planning a half century or more ago, illustrate the hazards of using a deceptively simple estate plan – basing the plan on successive life estates.1 The strategy often involves unexpected federal estate tax consequences,2 federal gift tax problems,3 income tax basis complications4 and assorted problems relating to like-kind exchanges, involuntary conversions and easements, to mention just a few of the more likely events occurring during the term of the life estates. Although often viewed as more complex (and costly to set up), a carefully drafted trust generally provides a more satisfactory platform for intergenerational transfers than successive life estates.
Harl, Neil E.
"Hazards of Basing an Estate Plan on Successive Life Estates,"
Agricultural Law Digest: Vol. 20
, Article 1.
Available at: http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/aglawdigest/vol20/iss18/1