question.jpgIn Trusts and Estates

What are future interests?

Generally, when you own property, you own it outright. However, you may not be aware that there are certain “interests” in the property which can be divided. For example, you can decide that you will own your house and the surrounding property for as long as you live, but that someone else will specifically own it when you die. The first interest, ownership of the property while you are alive, is known as a “life estate” and the ownership interest in the property after you die is known as a “future interest” (because the person who owns that has no interest in the property presently, only at some point in the future).

When you own your property outright, you can separate this future interest from the life estate and transfer it or sell it to someone else. For example, you can give away the future interest in your house to your son. While he has no right to the property now, when you die, the property will immediately pass to him, regardless of any provisions in your will and regardless of how your state’s intestacy statutes say property passes on (in fact, if you did this but then put in your will that the house should go to your daughter, your daughter would be out of luck). Thus, by giving your son this future interest, you have removed the house from your probate estate.