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legalgems, Arbitrator
Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience:  Just Answer consultant at Self employed
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I have lifetime rights to the home my husband left me. Its

Customer Question

I have lifetime rights to the home my husband left me. Its had structural damage for 25yrs to the foundation. the step children so I must repair it. My husband before passing told me dont worry about it. can they make me have it repaired?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  legalgems replied 10 months ago.

Hello! I will be reviewing your question and posting a response momentarily; if you have any follow up questions please respond here. Thanks!

Expert:  legalgems replied 10 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear this - your husband likely left you the life estate so you would have a place to live, not to create problems for you, so I am sorry you are experiencing this.

Fortunately the case law on this is clear. I am including the relevant text from Middleton vs. Rigsbee which states that while the life tenant is responsible for normal repairs, substantial issues must be apportioned between the life tenant and the remainderman. So the court will apportion it according to the expected life expectancy of the life tenant, and require the remainderman to pay the rest.

'gain, on matters relevant to the inquiry, while authority is to the effect that a life tenant is required to make all the ordinary repairs incident to the present enjoyment of the property, and required to prevent its going to waste, he is not chargeable alone with the costs of permanent improvements thereon, and which tend to enhance the value of the remainderman's estate as well as his own. The decisions on the subject hold that these should be properly apportioned between them,".....In this last citation the correct doctrine is stated as follows: "A tenant for life must make all ordinary repairs, but is not bound to make permanent improvements, such as sewers and farm drains, which add to the value of both the life estate and remainder, and the burden of making them should be equitably prorated between the life tenant and remainderman, taking into account the probable duration of the life estate and other relevant facts."

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Expert:  legalgems replied 10 months ago.

Hello again; just checking in to see how things worked out;
if you have further questions please don't hesitate to reach out to me here on Just Answer.