A life beneficiary is a person who–through a trust or a will–has been granted benefits that last for their lifetime. This can take several forms, such as an AB Trust or a life estate, though the beneficiary of a life estate is more commonly called a life tenant. Life beneficiaries have access to and use of the assets given to them by a grantor, such as the ability to live on a piece of land or to receive an allowance to cover living expenses. They do not, however, have ownership of the assets. Thus, their use of the assets are subject to the terms of the will or trust, can be limited or expanded by a trustee, and must not result in waste. Further, upon the death of a life beneficiary, the assets would not pass on to the beneficiary’s heirs. Instead, the assets pass on either to a named remainder beneficiary or their heirs, or revert back to the grantor or their heirs.
[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]