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What is a Life Interest in Land?

Find out what a life interest in land is. How it can be applied, how it works, and more.

If you are around property transactions, you become familiar with the idea of a registered lease, mortgage or an easement. But a life interest is a less commonly seen Property Law encumbrance sitting on a property title. What are they?

A life interest most commonly comes about when someone leaves everything in their Legal Will to their kids, on the condition that their spouse has the right to reside in the matrimonial home until they also pass away. That right to reside on the estate, is the life interest. It is also sometimes called a ‘life estate’.

A life interest effectively prevents the property being sold or otherwise dealt with, until the life interest is extinguished by the estate holder’s death.

If a life interest is granted to someone, it is registered on the estate property title (like a lease, easement or mortgage is), and will remain there until the Titles Office is notified that that person has passed away. This is done by lodging the death certificate at the Titles Office.

Under Property Law, a life interest can also be registered, say, at the same time as parties are doing a granny flat agreement. Say your parents build a granny flat on your property, one way to protect them would be to register a life interest. That would mean that whatever happens between you and your spouse (and with the property), your parents can live in their granny flat on the estate until they pass away. There are, of course, many implications with registering a life interest on your property title. For example, it can affect your ability to refinance or to sell.

Properly protecting people in your Will, or protecting people who sell their property to move into a granny flat with family, is important. But there are many ways to do it under Property Law, and each way has different implications. The Butler McDermott law firm’s will solicitors in Sunshine Coast can assist you in all these matters. Feel free to give our Nambour wills and estates lawyers a call.

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Simone Faunt


Peter Boyce


Peter has been practising as a Nambour Solicitor since 1977 and joined Butler McDermott Lawyers the same year.

With over 40 years practicing as a Sunshine Coast lawyer, Peter has extensive knowledge of various facets of law.

He has practised in all areas of litigation and has special interests in:

  • Criminal law
  • Civil and Commercial litigation
  • Retirement Village matters
  • Sports law
  • Resumption of land and compensation claims


Peter has specialised knowledge of and experience with resumption matters as a result of the Traveston Dam project, road corridors, Main Roads and water pipeline. He is renowned for his professional approach and is an experienced and determined advocate.

Brent King


Brent works as a litigation lawyer, providing litigation legal advice in relation to both civil and criminal law matters, including:
  • Defamation Claims
  • Contract and Debt Disputes
  • Building and Construction Disputes
  • Planning Matters
  • Criminal Law and Traffic Legal Matters
Having grown up on the Sunshine Coast and joining Butler McDermott after the completion of his studies, Brent appreciates the needs of our clients, and brings a particularly commercial approach to litigation. Brent is a member of the Queensland Law Society and the Sunshine Coast Law Association, and has litigated a wide variety of matters in the Magistrates, District and Supreme Courts.

Al Upton


After arriving at Butler McDermott Lawyers in 2016, Al quickly progressed to running our Wills and Estates section and has successfully litigated disputes in the Supreme and District Courts of Queensland in the early stages of his career.

In the years that followed Al has now moved to assist our clients with commercial and property matters having achieved positive outcomes in that area as well as general litigation. Al’s experience has him uniquely placed to provide quality advice in the areas of property, commercial, wills and estates and general litigation.

Al is involved in giving back to the community, sitting on the board for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation and Sundale Community Foundation. He otherwise became a director of Butler McDermott Lawyers in November 2021.