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  1. #1

    Default Life Estate and Property Taxes in Alabama

    My question involves estate proceedings in the state of: Alabama

    I am trying to help out my neighbor. Her husband died and had in his will that she has a life estate. She was told by a lawyer, this means that she has the right to live in the home until her death, and everything inside the home is hers. Everything outside the home is the executor's responsibilty. She has been told by the property tax office that since her name is not on the property deed, nor is it stated in the will that the property is her's, that she is not responsible for paying the taxes on said property. She has been threatened by the executor, that if she does not pay the property taxes. she will be evicted, and/or a lien placed on her, for the taxes owed. She has tried calling attorney's all want to charge by the hour to research and answer this question: Is the life tenant responsible for the property taxes?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Life Estate and Property Taxes in Alabama

    what executor? The only party that would have any standing to do anything would be the remaindermen.

    I could not find anything specific to Alabama but typically the tenant is liable for the property taxes unless otherwise agreed or directed in the deed. It is the tenants responsibility to maintain and protect the property from all liens, claims, and encumbrances that would effect the remaindermen's interest. Since she has full use of all the property conveyed by the deed, she is also liable for the maintenance of not only the house but the property as well.

    and again, what executor? The remaining liabilities are owed by the remaindermen.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Life Estate and Property Taxes in Alabama

    The executor of the will, who is also listed in the will as being the person to inherit everything accept the life estate left to the widow. The lawyer told her she only gets the inside of the house, as hers. Everything else goes to the other person. Eveything else is his, including, the property, upkeep on it, and everything on the property, also that he can do whatever he wants to the property. And, because the garage is not considered part of the house, he can have the only car she has. She has gone to a few lawyers, and cannot afford to go pay any more, she's on Social Security. They have all contacted the first attorney she spoke to and are now all in agreement after telling her something different. I wish there was a way to find a lawyer willing to look at the will and help her understand exactly what it says with out costing so much money.

    I apologize if I'm using unrecognizable words to describe people. These are the words used by the will and by the lawyers she has spoken with.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Life Estate and Property Taxes in Alabama

    the term executor is meaningless after the estate has been probated. It also has no meaning concerning the property other than the coincidence the exec and the beneficiary of the will being the same person if that is so in this case.

    the life estate is on everything included in the deed unless limited within that deed. In other words, unless the deed creating the life estate specifically states the wifes interest is limited to the inside of the house, then she has full rights, almost equal to the actual owner, to everything in the deed; house, land, barn, garage, trees, and grass. In fact, during the time of her life estate, she actually has more control than the remainderman (person who will possess the property after she dies). She has exclusive use of all the property listed within the deed.

    Just out of dumb curiosity; do you know how title to the property was held by the decedent? Was the wifes name on the title at all? If so, how were the husband and wife's names listed on the deed?

    a car is not part of a life estate. A life estate deals with real estate. A car would be personalty and would be dealt with separately within a will typically. So, the car you speak of: whose name is on the title (or was before the husband died) and if more than one person, is there and word such as and or or between the names and is there any mention of jointly with rights of survivorship?

    by chance, is there a law school in the area? They might be able to offer some assistance. Some law schools do pro bono work as part of their training. You might also look into any elder assistance programs. There are often such groups to help the elderly that are not financially well off.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Life Estate and Property Taxes in Alabama

    Quote Quoting justtryingtohelp
    View Post
    She has gone to a few lawyers ... They have all contacted the first attorney she spoke to and are now all in agreement after telling her something different.
    This makes it sound like there's something unusual in the wording of the will. Perhaps you could post the exact wording (with any identifying information removed). This in addition to the answers to jk's questions.

    Edward

  6. #6

    Default Re: Life Estate and Property Taxes in Alabama

    It reads much like a combination living will and will. The beneficiary, the former executor, was to be responsible for all medical bills and costs of burial, which did not happen. It reads that the wife is entitled to live on the property until her death, which at said time, everything goes to the benficiary, The car title is in her name. The wife's name is not on the deed to the property. Everything that was in her husband's name, the remainderman has in his possession. She was very lucky to have gotten a copy of the will. There are no details as to what possessions were had by the deceased, it's all vague, like tools, etc. Any itemized list was created by the remainderman at the time the deceased went into the hospital and then again 3 years later, to determine if the widow had sold or given away any items. There is no specification on what the life estate is. She is getting constant calls from the remainderman as to him coming to collect what is his, from the estate.

    How do I find if there are any law colleges in the area, or any elderly assistance programs?

    "This makes it sound like there's something unusual in the wording of the will. Perhaps you could post the exact wording (with any identifying information removed). This in addition to the answers to jk's questions.

    Edward"

    It names the executor as the beneficiary. After that, it reads like a living will, as far as who is responsible for making the medical decesions and is responsible for all medical and burial costs. Then it says how the widow has the right to live there until she dies, or decides to move, at which time all of the property reverts to the benficiary. The widow's first lawyer and the remainderman's lawyer are very good friends. The remainderman's lawyer recommended to the widow, whom she should hire. The lawyers she spoke with, after she fired the first one, all said they could help her. When she went to give them what paper work she had, they had to contact the first lawyer, because he did not give her everything she needed in order to have someone else look at it. After speaking with the first lawyer, she was then turned away, without ever being able to get the paperwork she was told she needed, and why they contacted the first lawyer.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Life Estate and Property Taxes in Alabama

    The car title is in her name.
    a will cannot give away another persons property, regardless where it might be stored. If the title is in her name, it is hers.

    edward did ask for exact wording, not a summary. that is important at this point given the amount of confusion this is causing.


    to find law schools; the internet is a wonderful resource.

    elder assistance programs; start with the local municipal offices and ask.

    as to being very lucky to get a copy of the will. The will must be admitted to the courts to be probated. She could have simply gone to the probate court and gotten a copy of the file.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Life Estate and Property Taxes in Alabama

    The will is still in probate. I cannot be more specific, because she does not have the entire will, only a part of it. I was with her one time when it was read. So, i apologize for not being able to be more specific. But I would like to thank you both for what help you were able to provide.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Life Estate and Property Taxes in Alabama

    she can get a complete copy of it by requesting if from the court in charge of the probate action. It should only be a couple bucks for copying costs.

    It sounds like she or you need to get a copy of it.

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