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Do Beneficiaries Have Any Rights Against a Life Tenant Who Doesn't Keep Up the Property?

  • August 10th, 2016
My mom has given her boyfriend a life estate in her house. When she dies, what rights do we have once we inherit the house? We don't want to deal with the boyfriend and really don't want to pay upkeep on the house so he can freeload off everyone. If he doesn't pay the insurance or keep up the property, can we take him to court or evict? Can we simply just deed the house back to him?

The specific details may vary from state to state, but usually the so-called "life tenant" – the boyfriend – is obliged to maintain the property. If your mother granted him his rights through a deed, you and your siblings would not be able to evict him if he violated those obligations. You might have a legal claim against him, which would be worthless if he doesn’t have any money to pay it. On the other hand, if his life interest is granted through your mother’s will, you might have additional remedies, depending on the wording of the will.

Deeding over your interest to the boyfriend -- assuming that the boyfriend’s right’s are in a deed -- might be a good solution. A local attorney could advise you better on this. To find an attorney near you, go here:

Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA

Margaret O'Reilly

Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Herndon, VA

Evan Farr

Farr Law Firm
Fairfax, VA

Jean Ball

Hale Ball Carlson Baumgartner Murphy PLC
Fairfax, VA

Last Modified: 08/10/2016

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