If someone with a life estate never lived on the property, would the title be clear so that the remainderman could legally sell the property?

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If someone with a life estate never lived on the property, would the title be clear so that the remainderman could legally sell the property?

Can the remainderman legally sell his interest without the life tenant’s consent?

Asked on August 28, 2018 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It would not be clear unless the purported life estate holder had excecuted some document renouncing or giving up their life estate, or unless there has been a court adjudication confirming that they lost it by never living in the property. While the remainderman would be likely to prevail on a legal action about this, given the facts described, until the life estate holder has voluntarily and formally given up the life estate or been adjudicated to have lost it, they could try to bring a legal action to enforce their estate should the remainderman wish to sell the property. The remainderman may wish to proactively bring a legal action seeking a "declaratory judgment" (court determination) that the remainder man has lost the estate.


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