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A simple guide to Edit Your Life Estate Deed on G Suite

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PDF Editor FAQ

What happens to the estate when the life estate holder undergoes an alienation via tax deed? For example, John gives property “to Mary for life.” Mary fails to pay property tax. Jane buys the property at tax auction. What happens when Mary dies?

In most US states, at least, when the State (or an inferior instrumentality thereof such as a county) seizes property in satisfaction of unpaid taxes, the title resulting from that seizure is superior to all prior title. Any and all prior claims to that property are extinguished, and the state (or county) is vested with fee simple absolute title in that property.In the instant hypothetical, when the property taxes go unpaid and the state seizes the property, both Mary’s life estate and John’s remainder are extinguished. The State then subsequently transfers its fee simple absolute title to Jane.This is why it is in John’s interest to see to it that the taxes are paid on the property, and more generally why it is in the interest of those with either residual or security interests to ensure that all taxes on the property in which they have an interest are paid on time.Note that in this situation, the holder of the remainder is likely entitled to compensation from the holder of the life estate for “waste”.Let’s explore some slight variations on this hypothetical. Let’s suppose that, when the tax man comes calling, Mary offers to surrender her property as an offer in compromise of her tax debt, and the revenue officer agrees. The revenue office then subsequently resells the property to Jane. In this case, the transfer of title was voluntary, rather than forced, and thus all that was transferred was Mary’s life estate. In this situation, Jane has a life estate pour autre vie (which is Law French, and is pronounced “pour out-ree vee”, not at all the way you’d say it if were actually French) for the life of Mary, which will terminate as a matter of law when Mary dies. On Mary’s death, the right of possession reverts to the remainderman, John.Now, let’s suppose that, upon seeing the notice of tax sale, Jane goes to Mary and offers to purchase Mary’s estate for less than what it’s worth. Mary transfers title to Jane, and Jane uses some of her other funds to satisfy the tax delinquency before the sale takes place. Again, in this situation, the transfer from Mary to Jane was voluntary, and thus encompasses only what Mary herself had; once again, Jane has a life estate pour autre vie, which will terminate on Mary’s death.The key here is that the holder of an interest in land can transfer only as much as he or she owns herself. Mary only owns a life estate, and thus can only transfer at most a life estate.The difference with a forced alienation by the power of the state is that the state here is exercising its power not as an owner (for it is not an owner) but rather as a sovereign, and is thus not bound by the limitation of the current possessor’s interest.

Can you make an agreement to buy someone's house when they die in advance? Can elderly people set this up to be iron clad?

Yes, you can. This is called a Life Estate. They sell the house, and in return they retain the right to live there for the rest of their life. In legal terms, it is an estate in real property that ends at death when ownership of the property passes to another person.The owner of a life estate is called a "life tenant". The person who becomes sole owner when they die is called the “remainderman”. In UK and US, the life tenant has the right to possession and enjoyment of the property, but once the tenant dies the property will revert to the remainderman.[1][1][1][1]Life estate deeds are the oldest form of deed for avoiding probate at death and are well-established in most states. They bypass the will and are an easy way to cut unwanted people out of a person’s will.Footnotes[1] Life estate - Wikipedia[1] Life estate - Wikipedia[1] Life estate - Wikipedia[1] Life estate - Wikipedia

My brother wants to buy my parents' house to help them out, should the siblings sacrifice our equity to help them too? They bought the house for 75k six years ago; Zillow says it is worth 175k now. Parents owe 60k, which is what brother would pay.

Assuming the Zillow price is accurate (which is a huge question mark for me, depending on where you live and how much of a deal they got at purchase) net equity currently in the home is 115,000. We’ll go with that for sake of argument.You mention siblings, so I’m going to assume there’s at least 3 of you total.If your parents both died tomorrow, and you sold the house and distributed the proceeds, you would each net approximately $38,300, presuming your parents wills divide any proceeds equally among you.Your brother is proposing to “help” your parents buy paying off the mortgage of $60,000, and apparently have the deed transferred to himself.On paper, he just gained $115,000 in equity, and your parents no longer have a mortgage payment, saving them somewhere on the order of $600 a month if their property tax and homeowners costs are similar to mine, as I paid about what they did for my home.Rather than having a potential $38,300 inheritance at today’s price assumption, you and your sibling now have $0 potential inheritance as far as the house goes, all of that transferring to your brother.Is it fair? No.It it legal? Whatever your parents choose to do — presuming they are competent — they can do.That said, I generally think it’s a horrible idea for a number of reasons.Your parents continued residence in the home is now subject to the whim of your brother or his heirs if no life estate is created during the transaction (more on that in a minute). Example, if your sister in law hates your parents, and your brother dies next month, without legal protection, she could evict them.While your brother may truly be trying to be helpful to your parents, there are other ways to do that without taking a major asset out of your parents’ estate.I don’t know what your current family dynamics are, but this is prime feeding for resentment, hostility, and broken relationshipsLife estate - a life estate is where one party (your parents) own the property for the remainder of their lifetime, and when they pass it reverts to the original owner. So if your brother buys it, for them to be able to remain there, they need to be protected by a legal agreement, a life estate being one way of handling that. Yes, this will mean a qualified real estate attorney.Other options include a reverse mortgage, but tread carefully there, they have some significant downsides.If your parents’ intent is to divide their entire estate equally among you and your siblings, their will could be updated to count that equity as already distributed to your brother before he gets anything else from the estate. If there’s not enough anticipated to be in the estate when they pass, that might not be agreeable.All of this should be discussed openly with the entire family. Your parents may not be comfortable having such a discussion, but their continued occupancy of the home needs to be legally secured if such a transaction would take place.Tread cautiously, your parents need a lawyer of their own to advise them, outside of any lawyer engaged by your brother for the transaction. One lawyer should not advise them both.

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