Who is responsible for cost of house repairs if we quitclaim deeded our house with a life estate?

Our daughter received a PI settlement with monthly annuity payment for her care. It was court ordered into a trust controlled by an attorney. The house was quit claim deeded to Trust because money from PI was used to purchase house. My wife and I were given life estate to property. Money was used over the last few years from PI money to keep home in repair and maintained as it was treated as a care facility for her. My wife has no income and I am on social security so don’t have money to do repairs and hard to do upkeep. Is the Trust responsible for repairs, that if left unpaired, could cause further damage? My wife and I are legal guardians for our daughter and the Trust is under the WA State Guardianship monitoring program.

Asked on March 20, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Regardless of who ultimately gets the house after you and wife (whether it is a trust or an individual person), as the "life tenants"--the people given the life estate, who are residing there and getting the current use of the premises and value of a place to live--it is your responsibility to perform maintenance, make repairs, and avoid damage to the property. If you fail to do so, you have committed "waste" or "permissive waste" and the trust, as owner of the remainder interest, could take legal action against you for the cost(s).

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