How to void a life estate?

UPDATED: Sep 1, 2012

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How to void a life estate?

My mother bought a house from her mother. It was not a gift; there was money in exchange for the house. On the deed, my mom received ownership but my grandmother retained lifetime use. She is renting out the property at the moment, and the current occupants are destroying the land. As the next in line to own the house, I want to know if there is anyway to remove the lifetime use so that I can actually fix the house before it is worthless.

Asked on September 1, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York


Paula McGill / Paula J. McGill, Attorney at Law

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You mother can bring an action for waste. 

Under New York Real Property Actions & Proceedings - Article 8 - § 815 Judgment in Action for Waste Against Tenant of Particular Estate  you can seek compensatory damages. Under certain circumstances, the property will be forfeited to your mother. 

However, as in all civil cases, once you file the suit for waste, your mother can negotiate with your grandmother to have access to the property and other concession to dismiss the lawsuit. 

Your mother should retain an experienced real estate attorney to handle this matter.

Also licensed in New York. Answer applies to New York.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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