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Can a Life Tenant Who Gifted a House to His Daughter Demand That His Daughter Sell the House?

  • August 27th, 2013
My father-in-law gifted the family home to his daughter retaining lifetime living rights. He has not lived in the house for more than five years, nor does he contribute to the upkeep or maintenance of the house or property. At the father's request, the daughter took out a mortgage on the house and gave him a little more than double the price he originally paid for the property. The father now wants the daughter to "sell" the house and is demanding $50,000. What are the daughter's rights?

I'd say first that the daughter needs a lawyer and that I do not know the law in the particular state. That said, typically the so-called "life tenant", the father in this case, has the obligation to pay for the upkeep and taxes on the house. On the other hand, one would expect someone else living in the house, the daughter in this case, to pay rent. The daughter taking out the mortgage and paying her father a large sum may or may not have covered rent in addition to her payment for a so-called "remainder interest" in the house. Who owes whom in this situation is hard to say without looking at all of the numbers. In terms of a sale of the property, the father has a right to the value of his life tenancy, based his age and the value of the property. Without more information, I can't say whether that is more or less than the $50,000 he is demanding, or whether this too has been covered by what the daughter has already paid her father. In short, the outcome of this matter will be determined by the facts. It does show, however, that any transaction concerning real estate should be carried out with all of these issues discussed in advance.

Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA

Mindy Felinton

Felinton Elder Law & Estate Planning Centers
Rockville, MD

Evan Farr

Farr Law Firm
Fairfax, VA

Samantha Fredieu

Hale Ball Carlson Baumgartner Murphy PLC
Fairfax, VA

Last Modified: 08/27/2013

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