What Are Rights to Property with “Lifetime Use”?

 In Vacation Homes

Question:

My brother and sister-in-law turned their camp over to their three boys with lifetime use of it seven or eight years ago. My sister-in-law passed away three years ago. My brother has paid all expenses for the upkeep of the property and the taxes. Now the boys want to sell the camp, and my brother does not. With my brother still alive and using the camp in the summer, do his sons have the right to sell the camp out from under him and without his permission? He has also remarried and where does that leave his new wife in this situation?

Response:

The answer depends on what you mean by “lifetime use.” If your brother and sister-in-law retained a life estate on the deed to the property, then his sons can’t sell it without his agreement. He can continue to use it as he sees fit.

If, instead, it was simply an understanding, but the sons have legal title to the property, then they can sell it without your brother’s agreement. They may then be violating a contract or your brother may be able to go to court to block a sale, but I’d be surprised if he’d want to sue his sons.

In either case, your brother’s new wife would have no claim on the property after your brother’s death.

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