If my husband inherited his father’s house but his father gave his partner living rights, does my husband have any say or right to ensure that the property is being taken care of?

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If my husband inherited his father’s house but his father gave his partner living rights, does my husband have any say or right to ensure that the property is being taken care of?

She’s in her 70’s. Does he have to wait until she passes or can he check on the house?

Asked on January 29, 2013 under Real Estate Law, Virginia

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your husband does have such a right. What your father-in-law created for his partner is known as a "life estate". Accordingly, his partner is the "life tenant" and your husband is the "remainderman" (i.e. has full ownership rights to the property upon the life tenant's demise).

Generally a life tenant has the right to do anything with the property that a full owner could do.  Further, in addition to these rights a life tenant also has responsibilities. Accordingly, they must pay taxes, maintain the property and not permit it to suffer any damage. A remainderman has the right t inspect the premises upon proper notice. If the remainderman then determines that the life tenant is not properly maintaining the premises, then they can file suit in court.

Since all of the procedures for inspection, etc. vary from state-to-state, you should consult directly with a real estate attorney in your area as to your rights/remedies under specific state law.


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