Appeals Court Upholds Use of Life Estate Deed Reserving Special Power of Appointment

supreme court

In Skye v. Hession, 16-P-282 (Apr. 28, 2017), the Appeals Court issued a ruling upholding the use of a life estate deed that reserved in the grantor the power to alter remainder beneficiaries. Prior to her death, Margaret A. Hession executed a deed retaining a life estate in her home but conveying the remainder to her children and a son-in-law in equal shares. Hession executed the deed in part so that the property would not be countable by MassHealth if she later required nursing home care. When Hession died, she exercised the power by will and reduced the share of one of the children, who filed suit challenging the use of the power. The Appeals Court held that the use of the power was permissible because Hession effectively retained the power through the form of the deed, and did not attempt to improperly alter a post-conveyance transfer through her will, as the aggrieved child argued.