If my mother’s house was left to my siblings and I but my stepfather has lifetime rights, can he force me to leave the residence?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If my mother’s house was left to my siblings and I but my stepfather has lifetime rights, can he force me to leave the residence?

My mom passed 2 years ago. In her Will it states that the house is left to me and my siblings. I reside in the house, as well as my stepdad. He has lifetime rights only. Can he force me to leave the house?

Asked on May 23, 2016 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You hare dealing with a "life estate" in this situation; you (and your siblings) are what is known as the "remainderman" and your stepfather is the "life tenant". Accordingly, while you (and your siblings) will own the property outrigtht upon his death, until that time he has all of the rights that an owner would have, other than the right to sell the property. Therefore, he can ask you to leave. That having been said, he would most likely have to give you proper legal notice to vacate; he cannot just through you and your things out. If he does, you can bring suit against him.

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