What Can I Do to Prevent Foreclosure if Life Estate Owner is Not Paying Taxes?

 In Real Estate
life estate holder

Photo by Breno Assis on Unsplash


My mother left her home in a life estate for a family friend who hasn’t paid the taxes for the last three years. As a result, the property is scheduled to go foreclosure at the end of this month. My brother and I will receive the home when the family friend passes away, but he doesn’t care about the property and won’t help out. What can I do to stop foreclosure?


If you can afford to do so, your best bet is to pay the taxes yourself. As the life estate holder, or “life tenant,” the family friend is responsible for maintaining the property, including paying the taxes. As a “remainderman,” one of the people who will receive the property upon the life tenant’s death, you may make a claim against the family friend for failure to fulfill their obligations. But that takes time and money and would not protect the property from foreclosure.

It sounds like you brother is not being cooperative, but perhaps he would agree to reimburse you for the taxes you paid if you plan to sell the property after the life tenant’s death. If he won’t agree to this, then after paying the taxes you may want to bring an action against the life tenant. If the life tenant does not have the funds to reimburse you, then you may need to make a claim against your brother too, just to preserve your rights.

Showing 2 comments
  • Beverly Roberson

    Can I put a home with 40 acres into a revocable trust for my daughter if it still has a mortgage on it? The property is valued at $250,000 and I still have $40,000 left on the mortgage. I’m retired living on a small limited income. My health has not been good and I fear if I require a nursing home facility I will loose my home.

    • Harry Margolis

      Yes, pursuant to the Garn St. Germain Act you can place your house in a revocable trust without a problem with your mortgage. However, that might not protect the property for Medicaid purposes. For that, you made need an irrevocable trust or a life estate. I haven’t seen any problems with these and mortgages as long as the homeowner has kept making their payments on a timely basis. However, I’ve also not seen mortgage rates increase so rapidly, so banks may be more vigilant in looking at what’s happening to properties. In the worst case scenario, if you did run into an issue with your mortgage, perhaps your daughter could help out given that your goal of protecting the property is for her.

Leave a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search