What are a life tennts rights regarding their life estate?

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What are a life tennts rights regarding their life estate?

I have a life estate and added my 2 daughters to the deed. My home has mold so I have not lived in it for 3 years. Even 1 daughter moved as well but the other has a trailer on the property and was allowed to stay there by the county under a hardship clause which has been removed since she no longer takes care of me. She said she would pay the taxes but has not; they are now deliquent. She also has not kept the property up and it now has 4 violations.She also put a tenant in a back shed which was made a dwelling and charging rent. I don’t even know the amount but know he has been there 5 months.That shed is the violation. I don’t have the funds for repair and back taxes.What can I do?

Asked on December 11, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am not sure I fully understand your question.  In general, a life tenant (which is you) has the right to live in the property for life.  The life tenant is also responsible for maintenance and taxes.  If the life tenant does not pay the maintenance and taxes, that is called "waste."

If the life tenant does not live in the house and pay the maintenance and taxes, the "remaindermen" can sue for "waste" and have the property placed in their names.  Then they become responsible for maintenance and taxes.

It sounds like no one is willing to pay the maintenance and taxes on this property.  If so, your options are to sell the property or let it be sold in foreclosure (if there is a mortgage) or for tax delinquency.  If you want to sell the property voluntarily, both the life tenant and the remaindermen must agree.  If you let it go in foreclosure or tax sale, the life tenant and remaindermen will be named as defendants in the action for foreclosure or to quiet title.

I don't know what you mean by you "added my 2 daughters to the deed."  Are they also life tenants?  Or, are they the remaindermen? 

I suggest you visit the property appraiser's office in the county where this property lies and talk to them about the back taxes.  Once taxes are delinquent, the Property Appraiser can sell tax certificates on the property.  The owner of the certificate receives the amount of delinquent taxes plus interest if the owner pays the taxes.  If the owner does not pay the taxes for 2 years, the holder of the tax certificate can force a foreclosure sale of the property.  The Property Appraiser can let you know the status of this property and explain what will happen if you do nothing.


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