When we prepare life estate deeds, we are stuck with a drafting problem: you either have to get very detailed about exactly what rights the holder of the life estate retains and how all those legal details will work out (which could go on for pages - just think of how long mortgages
, promissory notes and offers to purchase can get), or you take a short cut and relay on the large body of legal tradition to define who does what and who has what legal rights.
In your case (and this happens often), the party who drafted the life estate deed chose to rely on the large body of legal tradition to define the rights of the life tenant, by simply saying they retained the life estate "with reservation of full powers". What that tells me is that the life tenant had the exclusive right to occupy the property for his/her life, along with the right and obligation to maintain the property, pay property taxes
, and insure the property. There is always a question of who is obligated to take care of capital improvements - such as if the roof needs to be repaired - so that kind of thing can be a point of contention if the life estate holder and the remainderman are not on great terms. If the property is income producing, the life tenant typically also has the right to the property's income for his/her life.
(I'm not sure what other examples to give without knowing what might be the exact points of contention in your situation.)
From the excerpt you provided, it looks like you are referencing a different deed than the original one created the life estate. Perhaps the original grantee/remainderman transferred their interest in the property to someone else? If the original life estate holder is still alive, then the transfer remains subject to that original life estate. If that party has since passed away, then the title should be free and clear of that life estate. Because the life estate holder and the grantee/remainderman hold distinctly different and separate rights, they may each transfer their respective interests to someone else without needing the permission of the other party. It doesn't change the underlying relationship, not that the life estate terminates at the time of death of the original life tenant.
I hope I'm getting closer to answering your question. Sometimes it is difficult to zero in on what you need to know without knowing what the circumstances are that are giving rise to the question, so if it seems that I'm not quite getting to what you need to know, perhaps it would help to give a little more background detailed.
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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.
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