Terminate Life Estate Early

Terminate Life Estate Early

My elderly step father has abandoned his life estate in a house. He has filled paper-work officially terminating his life interest but his daughter will not sign it...she doesn't want the house nor does she want to give it him. Is there paper-work he can sign to terminate his life-interest without the signature from the owner.


Let's define the term for others first. A "life estate" is typically an arrangement where one person has the right to use an asset, typically a house, for their life, and on their death, the remainder beneficiary, receives full ownership and use. The remainder beneficiary can be said to own the property, subject to the rights of the life tenant (the person holding the life estate). The rights of the parties to the life estate depend on the legal document that creates the life estate (a deed or will are common) and state law. All your step father may have to do is file a renunciation of the life estate and/or a deed transfering the life estate to the remainder beneficiary, his daughter. These documents should be reviewed by a real estate attorney and probably, depending on state law and local proceedures, be filed in the County Clerk's office just like a deed. The daughter really may have no say in the matter at all. Also, something doesn't make sense....the daughter is getting the rights to the entire house and can sell it once her father, your step-father, disclaims. She could not do this before he gave up the life estate. Why would she complain? If she doesn't want the house. Sell it. Take the money and have a party. Have your step father talk to a local real estate attorney. There really shouldn't be a problem.

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