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Life Estate Questions

Life estates provide a limited form of ownership with a divided interest between two people. Life estates provide a person full use of the property during that person's lifetime. Another word for the owner of a life estate is a life tenant and this person enjoys full ownership for the entirety of their life. With full ownership also come full responsibilities and liabilities of the property. To learn more about life estates, take a look at the questions below that have been answered by Experts.

I own property with a life estate beneficiary designated, does permission from me need to be agreed, in order for property to be rented. If so, why can't I have renters evicted? Can I get into trouble for trying to evict renters or collect the rent?

Your permission is not required for the life estate owner to rent the property and to collect rent. The life estate owner can do anything they choose as long as it doesn't cause damage to the property. If you try to force eviction on tenants of the property, you could very well face a lawsuit. You have no rights to the property until the life estate terminates. This means until the life estate tenant dies, you (the remainder man) cannot trespass on the property or involve yourself with any agreements made between the life estate tenant and the renter. Any rental payments from the renter would belong to the life estate tenant, not you.

My mother has a quitclaim deed with a life estate. If she goes to a nursing home will Medicaid be able to file a lien against the property?

Typically what would happen is Medicaid would deny your mother coverage for a period of time. The way this is figured is Medicaid would take the value of your mother's home and divide by the monthly care expenses. For example, if your mother's home is worth $100k and her care expenses totaled $5k per month, she would not qualify for Medicaid assistance for 20 months.

Medicaid can penalize an applicant that has transferred any real property from their possession for up to 60 months. This is called a "look back period". However, if the property transfer occurs 60 months and 1 day from the look back period, your mother would be exempt from any penalty from Medicaid and her expenses would be covered. So, in order for there to be no penalty from Medicaid, your mother would have to wait 60 months and 1 day from the transfer before going to a nursing home.

If a person has a life estate and the property is sold to someone else and the life estate remains in place but that person is no longer residing on the property, what is the obligation of the property owner?

This will depend upon whether or not the life estate holder took part in the deed transfer to the new owner. If the life estate holder didn't take part, then the life estate will still be valid regardless where the life estate holder lives. However, the life estate holder must maintain the property and accommodate any liabilities pertaining to the property.

If the estate holder is neglecting his/her duties, you can do a couple of things:

1. You can talk to the life estate holder about allowing the life estate being transferred to the new owners.

2. File suit against the estate holder to end the life estate for failure to take care of responsibilities and pay any related liabilities.

My mother has a life estate to her home and property and upon her death, I have been deeded it all. Does she have the legal right to refuse my dog on her premises?

Your mother is entitled by the life estate to refuse anything that pertains to the home or property. If your mother doesn't want your dog on the property or in the home, it is her right to refuse. While you may own the property, you have no right to decide what takes place on the property until your mother is deceased and the property is passed to you.

If you are involved in a life estate, it is important for you to understand how the arrangement works to avoid any legal issues. Not knowing your rights may result in a lawsuit or other legal complications. If you are dealing with a life estate or just have questions, you should ask an Expert for legal insight and assistance with making the best choices for your individual needs.
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