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  1. #1
    sassymeadows is offline Junior Member
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    What is a lifetime estate in a property?

    What is the name of your state? California

    My 90yr old father just passed away and left his house on 14 acres, another 46 acres, money, cd's, life insurance and ira's and all of his personal belongings, furnishings and effects. My mother passed away several years ago.

    I am the trustee, I was givin the 14 acres with the house and personal belongings, furnishings, etc., my brother was given the other 46 acres and $20,000. My father's female companion was given a lifetime estate in the house and we have just found out her name is on all of the insurance policies, cd's and ira's.

    She has never lived in my parents house for longer than a week at a time, she has her own residence in another county, which she has not given up. She has stated that she does not want to live in the house and will give up her lifetime estate in it but will not do that until "I get my money". The dispersal of monies could take up to 3 months.

    I would like to know what the boundaries of a lifetime estate are, does she have to already live there when the owner passes away, can she decide to live there two years from now, who pays the bills for the home...maintenance and utilities, does she have to make it her permanent home or can it be a weekend home.

    We are also persuing the money aspect because that is something completely out of character for my father to have done, he was very sick and somewhat in and out of his faculties the last 6 months or so. We were shocked to hear that his companion suddenly became the owner of several hundred thousands of dollars, most of which had been in my mother's name also, and according to her will should have gone to my brother and I.

    Please any advise on the lifetime estate issue would be helpful and appreciated.
    Last edited by sassymeadows; 10-27-2005 at 10:20 AM.
  2. #2
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sassymeadows
    What is the name of your state? California

    My 90yr old father just passed away and left his house on 14 acres, another 46 acres, money, cd's, life insurance and ira's and all of his personal belongings, furnishings and effects. My mother passed away several years ago.

    I am the trustee, I was givin the 14 acres with the house and personal belongings, furnishings, etc., my brother was given the other 46 acres and $20,000. My father's female companion was given a lifetime estate in the house and we have just found out her name is on all of the insurance policies, cd's and ira's.

    She has never lived in my parents house for longer than a week at a time, she has her own residence in another county, which she has not given up. She has stated that she does not want to live in the house and will give up her lifetime estate in it but will not do that until "I get my money". The dispersal of monies could take up to 3 months.

    I would like to know what the boundaries of a lifetime estate are, does she have to already live there when the owner passes away, can she decide to live there two years from now, who pays the bills for the home...maintenance and utilities, does she have to make it her permanent home or can it be a weekend home.

    We are also persuing the money aspect because that is something completely out of character for my father to have done, he was very sick and somewhat in and out of his faculties the last 6 months or so. We were shocked to hear that his companion suddenly became the owner of several hundred thousands of dollars, most of which had been in my mother's name also, and according to her will should have gone to my brother and I.

    Please any advise on the lifetime estate issue would be helpful and appreciated.

    Q: I would like to know what the boundaries of a lifetime estate are

    A: For the life of the person who has the estate.
    There are two rules for success:

    (1) Never tell everything you know.
  3. #3
    sassymeadows is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by seniorjudge
    Q: I would like to know what the boundaries of a lifetime estate are

    A: For the life of the person who has the estate.
    We understand that the lifetime estate is good for the life of the person who has recieved the lifetime estate.

    My question is what nulifies the gift? She doesn't live there right now, if she doesn't move in for two years and then decides she wants to live there, can she? When does she have to accept this offer and does it run out?
  4. #4
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sassymeadows
    We understand that the lifetime estate is good for the life of the person who has recieved the lifetime estate.

    My question is what nulifies the gift? She doesn't live there right now, if she doesn't move in for two years and then decides she wants to live there, can she? When does she have to accept this offer and does it run out?
    What gift? You mentioned no gift in your first post.

    And you say you are "trustee". When and where was this trust set up? Do you have a copy of the trust?
    There are two rules for success:

    (1) Never tell everything you know.
  5. #5
    sassymeadows is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by seniorjudge
    What gift? You mentioned no gift in your first post.

    And you say you are "trustee". When and where was this trust set up? Do you have a copy of the trust?
    What I meant by gift is that my father gave her a lifetime estate in his house, but he gave the house and the property to me.

    The trust was set up in 2000 and yes I have a copy of it. The only thing it says is that Ms. XXXXX has a lifetime estate in the house, she can not lease it, rent it or mortgage it.
  6. #6
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sassymeadows
    What I meant by gift is that my father gave her a lifetime estate in his house, but he gave the house and the property to me.

    The trust was set up in 2000 and yes I have a copy of it. The only thing it says is that Ms. XXXXX has a lifetime estate in the house, she can not lease it, rent it or mortgage it.
    Then you will have to put up with her till she croaks.
    There are two rules for success:

    (1) Never tell everything you know.
  7. #7
    sassymeadows is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by seniorjudge
    Then you will have to put up with her till she croaks.

    Okay that still does not answer my question. She is staying in the house right now with a little suitcase and her toothbrush but has not truly moved in yet, she still has a house in the Bay Area which is her legal residence. She says she does not want to move in to my fathers house and is just waiting until she gets her money from the trust. How long does she have to decide if she wants to live there and what constitutes living there, visits on the weekend. What if she decides to live there 2 years from now, do I have to move out?
  8. #8
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    Q: How long does she have to decide if she wants to live there and what constitutes living there, visits on the weekend. What if she decides to live there 2 years from now, do I have to move out?

    A: She has until she dies to decide.
    There are two rules for success:

    (1) Never tell everything you know.
  9. #9
    divgradcurl is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sassymeadows
    Okay that still does not answer my question. She is staying in the house right now with a little suitcase and her toothbrush but has not truly moved in yet, she still has a house in the Bay Area which is her legal residence. She says she does not want to move in to my fathers house and is just waiting until she gets her money from the trust. How long does she have to decide if she wants to live there and what constitutes living there, visits on the weekend. What if she decides to live there 2 years from now, do I have to move out?
    seniorjudge is exactly right -- however, you could ask her to give up the life estate, perhaps you could buy out her interest in the life estate, then you would own the property free and clear.

    EDIT: And BTW, although you said she couldn't rent or lease the property, she could probably contest that in court -- the courts tend to look with disfavor on any "restraint of alienation," and might allow her to rent or lease the property if she wanted to. But you should see if she would be willing to sell her interest, or otherwise give up her interest.
    Last edited by divgradcurl; 10-27-2005 at 05:16 PM.
  10. #10
    sassymeadows is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by divgradcurl
    seniorjudge is exactly right -- however, you could ask her to give up the life estate, perhaps you could buy out her interest in the life estate, then you would own the property free and clear.

    EDIT: And BTW, although you said she couldn't rent or lease the property, she could probably contest that in court -- the courts tend to look with disfavor on any "restraint of alienation," and might allow her to rent or lease the property if she wanted to. But you should see if she would be willing to sell her interest, or otherwise give up her interest.

    She already got over $400,000 from him that none of us knew he had changed over into her name, totally bypassing the trust. I think that is more than enough. She says she doesn't want to live there, she is just staying until she gets her money, well we just starting meeting with accountants and lawyers so that might be a while before everything is settled. Today she had the locks changed on the house and if she is planning on living there I would have liked to have gotten all of my fathers things out of the house before she took over.
  11. #11
    sassymeadows is offline Junior Member
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    New Question**************....Can we sell the house.

    Quote Originally Posted by sassymeadows
    She already got over $400,000 from him that none of us knew he had changed over into her name, totally bypassing the trust. I think that is more than enough. She says she doesn't want to live there, she is just staying until she gets her money, well we just starting meeting with accountants and lawyers so that might be a while before everything is settled. Today she had the locks changed on the house and if she is planning on living there I would have liked to have gotten all of my fathers things out of the house before she took over.

    What happens if we sell the house, does the new buyer have to honor the lifetime estate? Or can we even sell the house if she decides to live there?
  12. #12
    divgradcurl is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sassymeadows
    She already got over $400,000 from him that none of us knew he had changed over into her name, totally bypassing the trust. I think that is more than enough. She says she doesn't want to live there, she is just staying until she gets her money, well we just starting meeting with accountants and lawyers so that might be a while before everything is settled. Today she had the locks changed on the house and if she is planning on living there I would have liked to have gotten all of my fathers things out of the house before she took over.
    The amount she got from him is irrelevant -- if she won't voluntarily abandon the life estate, the best you can do is buy it from her. Or wait until she dies.
  13. #13
    sassymeadows is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by divgradcurl
    The amount she got from him is irrelevant -- if she won't voluntarily abandon the life estate, the best you can do is buy it from her. Or wait until she dies.
    I don't know if you saw my new question or not but can we sell the house? and if so how does that affect the lifetime estate. Does the new owner have to honor it?
  14. #14
    divgradcurl is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sassymeadows
    What happens if we sell the house, does the new buyer have to honor the lifetime estate? Or can we even sell the house if she decides to live there?
    You cannot sell the house -- you do not have a "present interest" in the house. You cannot sell or otherwise encumber the house while her life estate is still in effect. While the "life tenant" is still alive -- no matter who is actually living in the house, or even if anyone is living in the house -- you, the "remainderman," has no right to the property, other than a vested future interest in the property. For all practical purposes, the life tenant is an "owner" of the property while the life tenant is still alive. The only restrictions on the life tentant are that the life tenant must pay the property taxes and pay for maintenance on the property, and cannot commit "waste."

    As a remainderman, the only right you have to the property while the life tenant is still alive is the right to keep the life tenant from commiting "waste," which is the lowering of value of the property due to failing to pay taxes, encumbering the property, allowing improvements to fall into disrepair, or extracting resources from the land (cutting down trees, mining, etc.).

    You either have to sit back and wait for her to die, or you need to find some way to get her to relinquish the life estate. Unless she is committing waste, you cannot force her to do anything else.
  15. #15
    sassymeadows is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by divgradcurl
    You cannot sell the house -- you do not have a "present interest" in the house. You cannot sell or otherwise encumber the house while her life estate is still in effect. While the "life tenant" is still alive -- no matter who is actually living in the house, or even if anyone is living in the house -- you, the "remainderman," has no right to the property, other than a vested future interest in the property. For all practical purposes, the life tenant is an "owner" of the property while the life tenant is still alive. The only restrictions on the life tentant are that the life tenant must pay the property taxes and pay for maintenance on the property, and cannot commit "waste."

    As a remainderman, the only right you have to the property while the life tenant is still alive is the right to keep the life tenant from commiting "waste," which is the lowering of value of the property due to failing to pay taxes, encumbering the property, allowing improvements to fall into disrepair, or extracting resources from the land (cutting down trees, mining, etc.).

    You either have to sit back and wait for her to die, or you need to find some way to get her to relinquish the life estate. Unless she is committing waste, you cannot force her to do anything else.

    Okay but the property was given to me in the trust, it's my house I just have to let her live there? And what you are saying is that the trust doesn't have to pay the taxes, what about the insurance and utilities?

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