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  1. #1

    Default Division of Proceeds from Sale of a Life Estate and Remainder Interests

    My question involves estate proceedings in the state of: Alabama

    My grandfather passed years ago and left a commercial property "life estate" (as a survivorship?) in his will to his son and daughter (who are life tenants?) and then upon the death of the survivors, the estate would be left to the grandchildren - me, my sister and my two cousins (the remaindermen?). The son, my father, also passed away a few years ago and so my aunt is in control of the property (receives rent, pays taxes, etc.). All of us are interested in selling the property and are all of age to do so. My aunt is the only one meeting with the investors/buyers and afterwards relays the information to the rest of us. There have been enough contradictions in what she says about the breakdown of how the money from the sale would be split up to cause me some concern that she is not being truthful and thus I am asking questions. Most of the literature I have found mainly concerns private real estate and not commercial property and I would assume that would be treated differently.

    So here is what I need help with:
    1) Does the life tenant have any right to conduct meetings for sale of the property without the remaindermen?
    2) Does the life tenant have any right to money from the sale? IF so, how is that determined? (she keeps talking about a 60/40 split based on an actuarial table?)
    3) What kind of taxes would have to be paid if this is considered an inheritance? Would this even be considered an inheritance?
    4) Are there any legitimate websites to find this legal information in detail?

    Thanks for your help!!
    ROLLTIDE!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Commercial Life Estate for Sale - Who Gets What

    The only title interest in the property the life tenant has a right to sell on her own is her life estate. If she sells her life estate, the buyer gets the rights and obligations of the life tenant. The life estate still ends when the original life tenant dies.

    If you are collectively planning the sale of the life estate along with everybody's remainder interest, you are free to let anybody you want negotiate the deal or to try to find a buyer yourself. I expect that if you refuse to sign off on the deal at its conclusion, most prospective buyers would turn down the deal.

    There's no one-size-fits-all formula for the value of a life estate. They usually have little market value. You should be able to find a real estate appraiser who can attach a figure based upon the full facts and market factors.

    I would expect that the potential tax exposure would be for capital gains taxes, but am not in a position to know either your basis or the probable sale price.

    If you want a specific legal situation analyzed in detail, you should expect that you will need to take all of the relevant documentation to a lawyer, inform the lawyer of the full facts, and compensate the lawyer for his time.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Commercial Life Estate for Sale - Who Gets What

    Thank you for the clarification and advice!

    I expect I will have to go ahead and try to find a lawyer. This is a multi-million dollar deal and so far I've only been told to expect 2-300k. I may be young, but I'm not going to be blindsided.

    Again, thank you so much!

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