Thank you for any help. This forum has already educated me more than I could have ever hoped.
This may be lengthy.
This situation concerns a house in Ovid, New York, my wife, Stella (Gerogia), her sister, Niki (Texas), their father Stanley (deceased), and his wife (Stella and Niki's step mother), Priscilla (Ovid, New York with said property).
Stanley built a house in Ovid, NY. in 1985. At this time he was married to Priscilla, but built the house and placed in Stella and Niki's names from the beginning. On his death bed, in 1995, he issued life use to Priscilla, with Stella and Niki as the remaindermen (I hope this is the correct terminology). The life use agreement explicitly states conditions of life use, and conditions of waste. In short it states Priscilla must pay all taxes, fire insurance, and maintenance and upkeep on the property. The property was assessed at $81K in 1995.
In 2003 Priscilla sent Stella and Niki a letter through her lawyer stating they had to pay eight years of back taxes. We read through the agreement, responded accordingly, and never heard from her on the matter again. We did start researching the house shortly thereafter (until then neither Stella, nor Niki, ever bothered Priscilla or the property). We discovered all taxes had been paid up to date, and fire insurance was current with Stella and Niki as the owners and Priscilla as the life use tenant. We also took a trip up to NY and viewed the property in person around this time. The property appeared to be kept up very well at this time.
In 2005, while doing some research to insure taxes were being paid, we discovered Priscilla had fire insurance canceled and placed on her Florida property. This was through phone calls to Seneca County. So the house now sits with no fire insurance, and she does not reside in the residence. Having no fire insurance specifically breaks a portion of the agreement that explicitly is stated as cause for waste. We had not realized it at that time.
Yesterday, 8/15/2007, the owner of the property immediately adjacent to the house called Stella on the phone. He offered to buy the house from Stella and Niki for $40K cash, and that he had spoken with Priscilla and had agreement from her to attempt to make this deal, and that he would handle all the paper work involved. He also stated the reason he was offering such a low price was that the house was not in very good shape. He stated that Priscilla had not been living in the house for some time, had the power turned off, water pipes had burst over the winter causing damage, the roof was in rough shape, and was in all around poor condition.
Now that the stories are over, how about a few questions?
1) Would Stella and Niki have possible grounds to revoke her life use?
2) Would this be an expensive and involved process?
3) Can Stella and Niki possibly sell this property to this neighbor and be protected from any loopholes?
4) Can Stella and Niki handle all of this without having to travel to Ovid, NY?
5) Should Stella and Niki take out their own fire insurance policy immediately?
6) What type of attorney should we seek, etc...
7) Anything else we should know and haven't thought of?
Stella and Niki definitely want to sell the house. If they could remove Priscilla from life use and sell the house free and clear, that would be optimal. There are a lot of personal bad feeling between Stella & Niki, and Priscilla and how Priscilla manipulated and coerced their father at the end of his life.
I thank you for any advice. This issue has been over us for many years. It finally looks like there may be a light at the end of the tunnel on this matter.