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Waters died and left to Ellen Jones in his will "the use of 48 Walker Avenue for as long as she lives, or until she re-marries, or gives to my executors and trustees a written notice that she no longer needs and desires the use of the property. Upon death, remarriage, or notice given by Mrs. Jones, it shall become part of my residual estate". She tries to rent the property, and people claim that she does not have a life estate, but merely a license to use the property and therefore cannot rent it for profit.


  1. Was Jones granted a life estate?


Jones granted a life estate.


Pennell states that she was clearly given a life estate, as was stated in the will that she was "given the use of the house as long as she lives", with provisos included. He carefully expressed the provisos that would make the benefit cease, and, seeing as she did not commit any of these provisos, she has a life estate and is entitled to rent the property for profit.


  • When interpreting wills, the court must try to determine what the testator intended when drafting the will.
  • If the words of a will state that property is being given "for as long as X lives", this gives them a life estate in the property; as long as the beneficiary abides by any included conditions, they are entitled to the life estate.
  • Licenses are possible, and allow the benefactor to use the property, but not to gain capital from the property.