"Estate for life" is a generic term embracing interests in land of several types. The duration of such an estate may be measured by the life of the tenant himself, by the life of some other person, by the joint lives of a group of persons (i.e., the life of the member of the group who first dies), or by the life of the survivor of a group of persons. In the last two cases the tenant himself may or may not be a member of the group. When the duration of the estate is measured by the life of someone other than the tenant, that person is known as the cestui que vie and the estate as one pur autre vie. An estate for life may arise by operation of law, as in the case of dower, curtesy and tenancy in tail after possibility of issue extinct, or it may be created by express limitation or implication in a conveyance or devise. A conveyance creating a life estate may form part of a family settlement, it may be an outright sale, or it may be a commercial lease, reserving rent and differing from an estate for years only in that duration is measured in lives. The incidents of these several types of estate for life are not precisely uniform but, for most present purposes, they may be considered together.
William F. Fratcher,
RESTRAINTS ON ALIENATION OF LEGAL INTERESTS IN MICHIGAN PROPERTY: II,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol50/iss6/2