Real estate is something that cannot be possessed forever. The right on the property lasts until the end of life for the person who owns the deed. The right to that property ends once the life tenant dies. There should be someone who stands to inherit the property upon the owner's demise. This person becomes the remainderman. The passing of the property from one owner to another is governed by different forms of taxes. The tax obligations for the property after the transfer also apply but this is the least of the remainderman's concern.
Tax Upon Transfer
If the life tenant's interest has been transferred to the remainderman, voluntarily or involuntarily (which is upon death), there are two tax charges to pay. The first is the inheritance tax, which can be sizeable depending on the property or estate's value. The second tax is the gift tax, which is lower than the estate or inheritance tax.
In addition, the remainderman can dispose of his future interest on the property but still be liable for certain taxes. The inheritance tax will still need to be paid but it will be shouldered by the third party, or the transferee. If the remainderman does not want the property and wants to release it to the life tenant, he can do so without incurring taxes. There are still taxes to be paid but the life tenant will have to pay for them.
Maintenance and Tax Obligations
Should the remainderman decide to keep the property and become the life tenant, he has to pay taxes applicable to the property since he has become the new owner. These taxes are not substantial compared to the ones that he needs to pay upon the death of the life tenant.
Getting Legal Advice
Estate law is complicated and needs the expert opinion of lawyers. If you have inherited a piece of property or has been named as heir to some real property, it's better to consult a lawyer to become prepared to the taxes you need to pay.
As a remainderman, this is not something that you can just ignore. You will need to take care of the tax obligations and discuss them with a lawyer who is an expert on estate law. Do not just trust people who are do not have the legal expertise to handle the situation. This is highly technical in nature and you don't want to be caught unprepared.