ESTATE FOR LIFE. A freehold estate, not of inheritance, but which•is held by the tenant for his own life or the life or lives of one or more other persons, or for an in definite period, which may endure for the life or lives of persons in being, and not be yond the period of a life. 1 Washb. R. P. 88; Co. Litt. 42 a; Bract. lib. 4, c. 28, § 207; Hurd v. Cushing, 7 Pick. (Mass.) 169; Chal. R. P. 89. When the measure of duration is the tenant's own life, it is called simply an estate "for life ;" when the measure of dura tion is the life of another person, it is called an estate "per (or pur) autre vtie;" 2 Bla. Corn. 120; Co. Litt. 41 b; 4 Kent 23, 24.
Estates for life may be created by act of law or by act of the parties : in the former case they are called legal, in the latter con ventional. The legal life estates are estates tail after possibility of issue extinct, estates by dower, estates by curtesy, jointures; Mitch. R. P. 118, 133; Eldridge v. Preble, 34 Me. 151; Dejarnatte v. Allen, 5 Gratt. (Va.) 499.; Fay v. Fay, 1 Cush. (Mass.) 95 ; Irwin v. Covode, 24 Pa. 162 ; 3 E. L. & Eq. R. 345; Miller v. Williamson, 5 Md. 219; Gourley v. Woodbury, 51 Vt. 37 ; Brooks v. Brooks, 12 S. C. 422 ; Slemmer v. Crampton, 50 Ia. 302; Rountree v. Talbot, 89 Ill. 246; Noe v. Mil ler's Ex'rs, 31 N. J. Eq. 234. A life estate may be created by implication ; Nicholson v. Drennan, 35 S. C. 333, 14 S. E. 719.
A right given. by a will to occupy, at a specified rent, certain premises as long as the devisee "may desire to occupy the same as a drug store," was held to amount to an es tate for life ; and to the same effect Warner v. Tanner, 38 Ohio St. 118; Jones v. Mason, 5 Rand. (Va.) 584, 16 Am. Dec. 761; as was
a grant "so long as the waters of the Dela ware shall run" ; Foster v. Joice, 3 Wash. C. C. 498, Fed. Cas. No. 4,974; and a lease at a specified monthly rent of certain prem ises whilst the defendant continued to wish to live in a certain city ; Thompson v. Pox ter, 107 Minn. 122, 119 N. W. 797, 21 L. R. A. (N. S.) 575. A devise of the use and im provement of the testator's real estate, so long as the devisee should choose personally to occupy and improve any portion of the estate, was held to create a life estate, though terminable by the tenant ceasing to occupy; Wilmarth v. Bridges, 113 Mass. 407.
The chief incidents of life estates are a right to take reasonable estovers, and free dom from injury by a sudden termination or disturbance of the estate; Smith v. Jew ett, 40 N. H. 532. A tenant for life may not operate for oil or gas, or make an oil or gas lease, unless operations for oil or gas were commenced before the life estate accrued; Marshall v. Mellon, 179 Pa. 371, 36 Atl. 201, 35 L. R. A. 816, 57 Am. St. Rep. 601; nor can the owner of such an estate maintain an action of partition against the owners of the estate in remainder ; Love v. Blauw, 61 Kan. 496, 59 Pac. 1059, 48 L. R. A. 257, 78 Am. St. Rep. 334. Under-tenants have the same privileges as the original tenant ; and acts of the original tenant which would de stroy his own claim to these privileges will not affect them ; see Neel v. Neel, 19 Pa. 323.
Their right, however, does not of course, as against the superior extend beyond the life of the original tenant; 2 Bla. Com. 122; 1 Rolle, Abr. 727;. Co. Litt. 41 b.