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  1. #1
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    Default Can You Dissolve a Life Estate

    My question involves real estate located in the State of: virginia

    My mother passed away 2 years ago. Her will was created shortly before she died and in it she bequeathed the right to occupy or rent her (mortgage-free) home and land to her recent husband. After he dies the property goes to the 5 of us surviving siblings equally. In the will the verbiage states: "My spouse shall pay all costs to maintain the property, including, but not limited to, real estate taxes, assessments, insurance premiums, and ordinary repairs".

    The spouse is now balking at cost and inconvenience of maintenance and repairs although he was also given a significant sum of money with which to do so upon her death. The siblings do not feel it is fair for us to sustain this burden since he was given such a large amount with which to do so. Upon investigation, the cost of repairs had been deemed to be well below the cost of renting or mortgaging a similar home. However, knowing that the devil is in the details, the wording above "including but not limited to" would seem as though he would be required to pay?

    If it is mutually agreeable with him, how do we go about legally removing him from life estate and calculating his "share" of the home? I have read that it is customary to use an actuary table to do this? We do not want to sell property right away but would like to potentially keep it in the family and rent it.

    Thank you for the advice.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    15,270

    Default Re: Dissolve Life Estate

    How old is her husband?

    I do agree that the statement of "including but not limited to" would mean that he would be required to pay most things, but if some seriously major repair was needed, like a new roof for example, that might be a cost that should be shared between the life tenant and the remaindermen.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Dissolve Life Estate

    He is over 65.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    16,862

    Default Re: Dissolve Life Estate

    Have you asked him if he willing to relinquish his life tenancy in exchange for $$$?

    You're spinning your wheels until he says yes, then either ask him how much he wants or pick a number that you can live with and make him an offer.

    According to the SSA a man of 65 has an average of another 20 years to live. Assuming fair rental value is $1000 per month, that comes to $240,000 for 20 years rent. But that's not what you offer. You offer an amount that will provide him an income of $1000 per month. In other words buy him an annuity which is likely to cost about 1/3 of that amount ($80,000). Your mileage may vary.

    If you don't want to come up with that kind of money you might have to take him to court to compel him to pay or cancel the life estate. Either way you should be talking to an attorney and review your options.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Dissolve Life Estate

    Thank you so much for your input.
    Of course! We plan on speaking with an attorney. Hard to find things online that speak to the subtleties. We want to understand what we could offer vs. simply offering to help monetarily with repairs vs. helping with finding subs, etc.
    Sibs and I are all busy with raising young kids, far away; he is retired, sitting pretty on a nest egg and nothing else to do, glass always half full.

    I guess i am letting emotion get in the way.

    Just want to understand what our options are in a very surface way and plan to dig deeper. Thanks so much again for your help.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    6,212

    Default Re: Dissolve Life Estate

    Quote Quoting LMcD3000
    View Post
    he is retired, sitting pretty on a nest egg and nothing else to do, glass always half full.
    That is obviously what your mother intended. You should not be so concerned about what your mother left him. It was her money, not yours.

    Maybe she wanted him to have a comfortable life without spending all on the maintenance of the house for you to get.

    There are 5 of you kids. Contribute if you can afford it. Your mother is watching.

    Just saying.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    2,857

    Default Re: Dissolve Life Estate

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    That is obviously what your mother intended. You should not be so concerned about what your mother left him. Maybe she wanted him to have a comfortable life without spending all on the maintenance of the house for you to get.

    There are 5 of you kids. Contribute if you can afford it.

    Just saying.
    The bolded is NOT what the mother intended as demonstrated by "My spouse shall pay all costs to maintain the property, including, but not limited to, real estate taxes, assessments, insurance premiums, and ordinary repairs" in her will.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    6,212

    Default Re: Dissolve Life Estate

    I guess you are in touch with the dead.

    You totally missed the point.

    Boilerplate for a life estate.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    2,857

    Default Re: Dissolve Life Estate

    I don't have to be in touch with the dead. The now dead placed her wishes in the will which is pretty much why there are wills.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    15,270

    Default Re: Dissolve Life Estate

    Quote Quoting budwad
    View Post
    I guess you are in touch with the dead.

    You totally missed the point.

    Boilerplate for a life estate.
    Boilerplate or not, it was included in the life estate. Obviously mom did not intend for her children to pay to support her husband's living arrangements. You can suggest that they do so to help preserve their future asset, but to tell them that mom wanted them to do that is obviously incorrect and a little bit unkind.

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