How to void a life estate?

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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

Answers:

Paula McGill / Paula J. McGill, Attorney at Law

Answered 9 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.


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