Agent

Real estate value jeopardized by unpaid taxes

What happens if life estate tenant doesn't maintain the house?

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DEAR BOB: When my father died about four years ago, his will specified his surviving wife (my stepmother) would receive a life estate in his luxury house. She now "rattles around" this 20-room house, which she is barely able to financially maintain. The property taxes are constantly in default, unless my lawyer pressures her to pay. When she passes on, or decides to vacate the house, I am the legal remainderman (although I am a woman) who will then receive clear title to this valuable house. As I am on semi-cordial terms with my stepmother, I have offered her several financial incentives to give up her life estate in this lavish house. My concern is it will deteriorate and lose market value. It is a prime property that could command a substantial sales price, which I have agreed in writing to split with my stepmother 50-50 if she will move out now. But she refuses to move out or agree to any settlement although she is obviously letting the house run down. What can I do if she doesn't m...