What are my rights if I was given a life estate on house that I already live in and have for many years?

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What are my rights if I was given a life estate on house that I already live in and have for many years?

Do I have autonomy over all possessions on property? Do I have right to say who gets what?

Asked on January 4, 2013 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am not sure I understand your question.  With a life estate in Florida, you have the right to live in the house for your lifetime.  Along with that right, you can use the house and property as you see fit but cannot permanently damage or alter the property in a way that would diminish its value.  You are required to pay the taxes and insurance and keep up the property.  If there is a mortgage, you must pay the interest portion of the mortgage.

As a life tenant, you cannot sell the property or take out a new mortgage without the consent of the "remandermen" (the person or people who will receive the house when you pass away).  The remaindermen are responsible for paying the principal portion of any mortgage on the property.

If your question about "possessions" on the property refers to personal possessions like furniture and household items, those items pass separately from the house (real property).  Whether you are entitled to them depends on how you received the life estate.  If you recieved it by will, the will states who receives the personal property associated with the real estate.  If you received it by deed, then who receives the personal property is unclear.  If you received the life estate because someone else died (perhaps your spouse), then certain Florida laws will say who receives the personal property.  If you receive the personal property, you can keep it or give it to someone else.

I hope this answers your question.  If it did not, or your have further questions, feel free to call me or another Florida life or estate planning lawyer.


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