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  1. #1

    Exclamation Rights of Life Estate Holder in Washington State

    Hello all. This is my first post, we were not sure where else to turn (limited income.)

    Summary of the lead in:

    In 2004, my wife and I were preparing to leave the US Army. Her father offered to give her his property in WA state, if we agreed to move in and help him in his elder years. We agreed to this, and since then he has quitclaimed the title/deed to my wife, with "reservation of a life estate," which was fine with us at the time- the agreed upon verbal reason being for his own peace of mind, that he would never be kicked out of his own home. We moved our own manufactured home onto the property, aprox 300' from his, with a natural rise in the land providing a "privacy fence." My wife regularly visited with him, usually daily, became his POA for all medical (excluding power to commit), was asked by him to write his checks out monthly to pay his bills, etc.
    6 months ago, he invited his OTHER daughter's childhood 'best friend' to stay with him for "two weeks." She is just now finally moving out. During that time, he has continously complained to my wife and I about the hardships it has caused him financially, as well as emotionally.
    Last week, he came to my wife and informed her that the 1 woman (who subsequently also moved her teen daughter AND boyfriend into the house) was moving out - but his OTHER daughter would be moving in. This, after he had repeatedly sworn that he would not allow ANYONE else to move in, specifically because of how hard it made it for him to survive, mostly financially.
    His other daughter (who was arrested this weekend for domestic violence) is a convicted felon, has self-admitted gambling and drug abuse problems, and two sons - 1 with his own criminal record.
    In light of these, and our own ignorance, we informed him that we absolutely did NOT want her moving in. He became instantly irate (note: he is a chronic alcoholic, and was drunk - is most days in fact, all day), and said that he would be moving out- he said it as if it were a threat, in fact. We told him repeatedly that we did NOT want him to leave, that we just did not think it was best for either household for the other daughter to move in.

    So, over the last week, he has sold "everything" he owns material on the property to the 'best friend' of his other daughter, and himself moved out. Today however, we received this letter:

    -------Begin Paste----------

    Attorney at Law

    April 12, 2007
    Certified Mail
    Return Receipt Requested

    Dear Ms.:
    Please be advised that I represent your father. From his account, it appears you have a misunderstanding of your ownership interest in the property you and he are living on.
    The Quitclaim Deed he signed and recorded transferred a future interest in the property effective upon his death. He reserved a life estate in said property (copy enclosed). In essence that means he is entitled to the full use and control of the entire property during his lifetime.
    You have no legal rights to evict him from his home. This letter is to advise that he is temporarily living elsewhere because of the hostile environment, but fully intends to return. Under no circumstance are you to go upon or enter his residence. Your father intends to return and live there, with assistance; if necessary, or the alternative, rent the house to a third party.
    With respect to the deed given in July of 2004, he advised that he agreed to sign the deed in exchange for your promises to take care of him for the rest of his life. Otherwise, he wouldn't have signed the transfer documents. Such transactions are subject to being set aside, or recovery of damages in the event of a breach of the agreement by the other party. It is apparent that you do not intend to abide by your agreement. Therefore, he will be deciding how to pursue that issue.

    Lastly, please find enclosed a Notice changing the rent on the property where your mobile home is located. This rent is due on May 1, 2007. He has been gracious enough to allow your occupancy rent free because of your promises regarding his care. However, the attempt to evict him from the premises has hurt him deeply and he will be needing additional funds for other accommodations and to care for himself.

    You are hereby notified and informed that your space rent for the area where your mobile home is located on the following described property:
    is hereby raised to $75.00 per month effective on May 1, 2007. Payments shall be made on the 1st of the month and on the lsl of each month thereafter. DATED this day of April, 2007.

    --------End of Paste---------

    Can he do any of this? We know he's lying to begin with, about the eviction... and believe it is an intentionaly maliscious attempt at doing nothing more than taking everything back, to hurt my wife. (there are other reasons for suspecting that motive)

    Please help, anyone that has any information. I have searched the WA state laws, bills, ammendments, etc, for any references to "life estate," "life tenant," etc, and can find very little - but most of it seems to suggest, that this letter is completely groundless.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Washington State- Need help

    If somebody has a life estate for property, they can decide who lives there, and (assuming it is lawful to rent part of the land or premises) they can charge rent to people who wish to live on the property. They can also evict people they don't want to have living on the property.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Washington State- Need help

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    If somebody has a life estate for property, they can decide who lives there, and (assuming it is lawful to rent part of the land or premises) they can charge rent to people who wish to live on the property. They can also evict people they don't want to have living on the property.
    Does that include the person that they quitclaimed it to in the first place? Ie, can they evict that person as well, or is it a cotenant with equal rights to use/possess/occupy?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Washington State- Need help

    You said that they have a life estate and you have a remainder interest. That would not give you a present right to possession.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Washington State- Need help

    Yeah, I am not sure of how the terminology actually works- it is a standard WA state quitclaim form, with the names, dates, and property information handwritten in. Also handwritten in, is "Reserved life estate to grantor."

  6. #6

    Default Re: Rights of Life Estate Holder in Washington State

    Where can I find the definition of "owner" when it involves a life estate, in WA laws? I've searched like mad, and found several, but nothing specifically for life estates, except when considering such things as disability, DSHS rules, etc...

    In this case here, comparitively, how does the definition of "owner" differ between that of a "reserved life estate", and the landlord tenant law?

    RCW 59.18.030
    (2) "Landlord" means the owner, lessor, or sublessor of the dwelling unit or the property of which it is a part, and in addition means any person designated as representative of the landlord.

    (4) "Owner" means one or more persons, jointly or severally, in whom is vested:

    (a) All or any part of the legal title to property;

    I am confused, because the deed is in my wife's name, the county sends HER the property tax bills, (which are all solely in her name, for the full value,) etc...

    Sensible logic (not law, I realize necessarily) would dictate that one owner cannot charge another owner rent... I see many terms referenced, but few defined: co-owner, co-tenant, etc. Most references to owner mention it being anyone with any interest in said property. Is all of that discarded then, in the case of reserved life estates?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Default Re: Rights of Life Estate Holder in Washington State

    Pa is the owner of the land.

    You have only a future interest which is not vested yet and which will not vest till pa dies.

    (In other words, your question was answered by MisterKIA and the lawyer who wrote you a letter.)

  8. #8

    Default Re: Rights of Life Estate Holder in Washington State

    Seniorjudge, does the post you quoted here apply in WA as well? If yes, I can see a definite reason to involve an attorney at this point.

    The father in law has now left, claiming we evicted him, and left his previous residence open to multiple (now wild) cats... abandoned cats that used to live with him in the home. The animal door is wide open; in an area full of rodents, the former house cats, skunks, etc...

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