If someone makes a will and leaves a house to you, do you have to accept responsibility for it?

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If someone makes a will and leaves a house to you, do you have to accept responsibility for it?

My spouse’s grandfather wants to leave a Will that leaves his house, which we currently reside in with him, to her. He also has a girlfriend and wants to make sure that she has a place to live in the even of his death. We do not agree with that and do not want her there if that happens. Can he put in a Will that his girlfriend can stay in that house the remainder of her life if the house belongs to my wife? If he does, do we have to accept that?

Asked on August 11, 2016 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

What you are speaking of here in known as a "life estate". This is a common practice wherein a homeowner designates who is to inherit their property upon their death. However, while the inheritor becomes the titled owner, someone else known as the "life tenant", has the right to the use and possession of the house for the remainder of their life, at which time the party who inherited takes the property over outright. If this is not an acceptable arrangment for your wife, she can "disclaim" her inheritance and renounce any rights to the property.


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