Can a Life Tenant Sell The Property Without Consent of the Remaindermen?
Someone with a life estate has a right to the use of the asset in which she or he has a life estate for her or his life. The right can also exist for the life of someone else. The right extends to the use of the asset and the income from it. In the case of a farm, for example, the holder of a life estate, called a life tenant, could farm the land, sell the crops and keep the proceeds. The life tenant could also live in any house on the land. The life tenant will still be responsible for the payment of all taxes, insurance and maintenance on the farm.
A life tenant can sell or mortgage his or her life interest, but the interest sold or mortgaged is limited to the lifetime of the seller or mortgagee. The consent of the remaindermen is required.
Although the life tenant can sell the life estate, the buyer would have ownership rights only as long as the original life tenant lived. A remainder interest may also be sold. However, a life estate or remainder interest is difficult to sell during the life of the measuring persons, since it is unknown how long they will live and therefore the value cannot be determined.
If a remainderman wants to sell the property, the only way of doing so is to obtain a release of the life estate from the life tenant. This is often impossible. Accordingly, in the circumstance in which a son wants to sell a property which is subject to the life estate of the parent, he will not be able to do so unless the parent is willing to release his life estate.