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Dan
Dan, Retired JD
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Retired attorney, general practice, with an additional background in financial planning,
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Heres my question... what does live-time use truely mean

Customer Question

Here's my question... what does "live-time use"truely mean and what are my legal rights with this statement? I am being unfairley rifeled be an elderlyt person & really need some advice.   Can any body help me? Please Help!
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Dan replied 5 years ago.
Cheryl:

Could you please provide some additional details as to the circumstances involved in this situation? What does the elderly person have the life time use of? What is your interest in the matter?

Thanks,

Dan
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I am wondering if you received my reply?

Just in case you didn't...

My fiance bought this property from his parents over 15 years ago (cost-50,000). We recently refinaced it and I am now on the deed & the mortgage. This prpoerty has 2 homes on it. His mom is using the guest house and is refusing to help cover the cost of her living expenses there. He has 7 other sibilings who won't help with the costs either. His mom & dad are on the deed with lifetime use of the property (non specified). The question is-what can I do to recoup the living expenses from this woman? Also, she is receiving assistance form the state. They think she's paying rent, but she is not. What can I do. The reason we had to refinance was because my fiance was in debt from trying to pay for everything alone. The living expense are almost 600.00 monthly for that portion of the property. We can't evict his mother (she knows that we won't) she's taking advantage... what can we do?

Expert:  Dan replied 5 years ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX the additional info. I hadn't received any reply prior to this post.

Unless it is otherwise defined, a life estate gives that person the right for his/her/their lifetime to reside in the described property, although they do not own it. Similarly, unless it is otherwise defined, that privilege also has traditional responsibilities - it is not a free ride!

The life tenant must pay for their own utilities; the must maintain the property; they cannot commit waste; they are responsible for the property taxes (in this case on the portion of the property they are occupying, most likely); and if there is a mortgage (which the life tenant received the benefit of), the life tenant is responsible for the interest costs on that mortgage. The life tenant does not have to undertake capital improvements to the property, however, which is often a source of contention (because replacing a roof, for instance, is considered to be a capital improvement - you can see how something like that could be a source of conflict).

Based on your description, your fiance's mother is not meeting her obligation. If this is just out of ignorance because she believes that the life estate is meant to be a rent-free obligation-free stay, then 'updating' her understanding of the situation may help.

But if she still refuses, your fiance is stuck making some very difficult decisions. Her failure to meet her obligations as the life tenant is called "waste" in 'legalize'. Her son could sue her for 'waste', and use that as a basis for asking the court to terminate the life estate and/or ask for a money judgment for the costs he has born that was her responsibility.

Shy of taking a step such as that, your fiance is basically left only with the tools of persuasion and negotiation. If prodding to get her to cover her fair share voluntarily has no effect, perhaps he could let it slip that because she is not paying her rightful portion of the costs related to her occupancy of that property, he risks losing the whole thing to foreclosure. It is possible that her life estate would be terminated in that proceeding, but even if it didn't, because she has committed 'waste' by not paying her proper share, a new owner would be able to have her life estate terminated in court. The new owner would have no concern for her, and would want her out as soon as possible to be able to take maximum economic advantage of the property.

Aside from efforts at compulsion such as the above paragraph, there is not a lot your fiance can do to twist her arm if she remains stubborn and if he is not willing to take this to court (which considering that it is his mom you're dealing with is a reasonable position to take).

One thing I do want to bring to the table is a question of whether your fiance does have an unwritten obligation to mom to carry the costs of her occupancy. For instance, if the property was actually worth much more than $50,000 at the time he bought it from his parents for that price, or even if it has appreciated substantially and is worth many multiples of that sum today, was the bargain he got in that purchase as their son meant to be the exchange value for their lifetime occupancy of a portion of the property? Just a thought.


I hope this has been helpful. Let me know if you have any followup questions. If none, please remember to click on the ACCEPT link so that I may receive credit for working on this topic with you. (I'd greatly appreciate it!)


Thank you,

Dan

--------------

The information provided is general in nature only and shall not be construed as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.

PS: If an answer appears to you to have been very helpful, or to have taken above average expertise, and/or research, or if the answer shows an above average amount of time and dedication devoted to your issue, a bonus is nice way to say "Thank you". Thanks!

Dan, Retired JD
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 1164
Experience: Retired attorney, general practice, with an additional background in financial planning,
Dan and 3 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Dan,

Most of his sibilings had gotten great deals when they purchased properties from his mom & dad several years ago. Although he had felt an obligation to allow them to stay rent free for the summer months when they would return from their retirement home in Florida, he never offered to allow her to stay rent free when she returned as a year round resident after his dad had passed away. All the property values have increased over the last 15+ years. I suggested that she request that all her children pitch in to help with the costs. We aren't even asking for market value rent, just the costs. I will give my fiance the reply you wrote. Perhaps this will help him to make a more informed discision on how to proceed with the delma.

Thanks for your time. I now have some peace.

Expert:  Dan replied 5 years ago.
I wish you and your fiance the best with this. Due to the family nature of the situation, there is unfortunately no painless way to work though it, but there are principals of fairness that it is reasonable to bring to his mother's attention. Good luck.

Dan

- - --

I hope this has been helpful. Let me know if you have any followup questions. If none, please remember to click on the ACCEPT link so that I may receive credit for working on this topic with you. (I'd greatly appreciate it!)

The information provided is general in nature only and shall not be construed as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.

PS: If an answer appears to you to have been very helpful, or to have taken above average expertise, and/or research, or if the answer shows an above average amount of time and dedication devoted to your issue, a bonus is nice way to say "Thank you". Thanks!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Dan,

I do have one more question...am I considered a "new" owner since I am noted on the deed and we have a new mortgage?

Expert:  Dan replied 5 years ago.
The general rule is that a party can only pass on the property interest that they already have. Because your fiance's interest was subject to the pre-existing life estate, so is yours.

That notwithstanding, because you are a co-owner of the remainder interest, you could bring the suit asking for termination of the life estate due to 'waste' in your own name. (I don't believe it would have to be brought by all co-owners.) However, you functionally have the same family constraints as does your fiance, and anything you did would be seen as having been done by him, so I'm not sure anything could be gained by you bringing suit instead of him. That's not really the same circumstance as it would be if a totally unrelated 3rd party new owner were to take those steps. (Obviously, you wouldn't want to proceed with anything like that without your fiance's knowledge and consent.)


Dan

- - --

I hope this has been helpful. Let me know if you have any followup questions. If none, please remember to click on the ACCEPT link so that I may receive credit for working on this topic with you. (I'd greatly appreciate it!)

The information provided is general in nature only and shall not be construed as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.

PS: If an answer appears to you to have been very helpful, or to have taken above average expertise, and/or research, or if the answer shows an above average amount of time and dedication devoted to your issue, a bonus is nice way to say "Thank you". Thanks!

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Dan
Dan
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Retired attorney, general practice, with an additional background in financial planning,