Life interest and rights of occupancy in wills

Life interests create many layers of complexity in the administration of an estate. The taxation implications on a life estates are significant. They usually require specialist accountants or actuaries to quantify the cost bases of both the life and remainder estate. The life tenant may not have sufficient capital to maintain the estate asset for the benefit of the remaindermen. The remaindermen may need to support the life tenant to maintain the property and maintain the insurance on the same. This has been known to create onerous financial obligations on the remaindermen. The asset itself may fall into waste. If this is being considered you may wish to set up a fund sufficient to preserve the property. The creation of a life estate means the remaindermen will be waiting years to deal with the property. The client should consider the value of the life interest and that it may be cheaper to make provision by way of cash or a share in the revenue sufficient to allow their beneficiary to buy a small unit or build on the land they may already own. A right of occupancy may have less onerous tax implications because the occupier does not have the ability to generate income from the property. Due to the potential conflicts between the life tenant and the remaindermen it is advisable that you consider choosing the one or more of the remaindermen as the executor and substitute executors.

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