Real Estate Terms

Pur Autre Vie Definition

Enacting a life estate will ensure your property is taken care of in the event of your passing. In this article, we will learn about how the French phrase pur autre vie applies to life estates and help you cement your knowledge for the real estate exam.

What is Pur Autre Vie?

Pur autre vie is a term used in property law to indicate the duration of a specific form of life estate created when a life estate holder transfers his or her interest to another person. It’s a French expression that means “for another’s life,” thus a life estate pur autre vie would endure the same amount of time as another’s life.

What is a Life Estate and Life Estate Pur Autre Vie?

Estates can be divided into two different sections: freehold estates, and leasehold estates. A life estate is a form of freehold estate, meaning it is an estate in which you have an exclusive right to enjoy the possession of a property indefinitely. Contrast with a leasehold estate, where possession is limited by time period.

A life estate is a real estate interest held for the duration of a particular person’s life. The designated person is called a life tenant. The interest is restricted by the life of the tenant, meaning once they die, the interest ends. Interestingly a life tenant may sell, mortgage, or lease the property for the duration of the estate to another person, and that’s exactly what a life estate pur autre vie is.

A life estate pur autre vie is just like a regular life estate, but it lasts as long as another persons life. Like the French definition, it’s “for another’s life,” meaning again, the life estate is for another person.

Life Estate Pur Autre Vie Examples

A life estate pur autre vie can be created in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons.

For example, if person A holds a life estate measured by her own life and then sells or otherwise transfers her interest to person B for the rest of person C’s life, B now has a life estate pur autre vie. Person B’s estate ends when person C dies.

Here’s a more textbook example: let’s say there is a meeting between a widow, Mrs. Smith, and a widower. Mrs. Smith takes up residence at her new husband’s home and is adamant about keeping her house. She can either leave the house empty or rent it out and collect rental revenue. Mrs. Smith decides to let Mrs. Jones live in her home. Mrs. Smith bestows an estate pur autre vie on Mrs. Jones. Therefore she can dwell in the rented property until Mrs. Smith passes away. When Mrs. Smith dies, the property reverts to her estate, and Mrs. Jones is forced to abandon the rental.

Other Terms Associated With Pur Autre Vie

Some other things worth noting. The future interest that follows a life estate pur autre vie is either a reversion or a remainder.


Reversion in real estate is the return of property or assets to their original owner after a specific action or amount of time.


A remainder in real estate is a future interest in ownership. It is the right to own and possess the land after the fixed interest of the current holder expires.

What is the Difference Between Reversion and Remainder?

A reversion differs from a remainder because a reversion arises through the actual law or estate proceedings rather than by an act of the parties. A remainder is a future interest that is created for some person, whereas a reversion creates a future interest in some person and his or her heirs.

Here’s an example: John maintains a reversion if he gives Bob his car for the rest of his life. If John gives his car to Bob for the rest of his life and subsequently to Mark. Mark, a third party, holds the future interest or remainder in John’s car.

What to Know for the Real Estate Exam

When it comes time for your exam, it is essential to remember the term pur autre vie. Remember, it’s a French expression that means “for another’s life.” You also need to understand the fundamentals of life estates and how pur autre vie can apply to it. In short, a life estate pur autre vie is just like a regular life estate, but it lasts as long as another person’s life. Remember all of this, and you should be set on exam day!

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