Q: My parents put their home and property in a life estate with my sister, my deceased sister’s son and myself. They have since been confined to a nursing home and on Medicaid. (life estate set up 10 years prior to Medicaid so the 5- year look-back is not an issue) My main question is who is responsible for the maintenance, upkeep and financial obligations of the property? My sister and I have been keeping it up, but the nephew has refused to do anything. (Baldwin, PA)
A: I would need to review the life estate before advising you adequately. Is the life estate in their will or in a deed? If the life estate is in a deed that was filed 10 years prior to Medicaid eligibility, the only part of the transaction you need to be concerned with would be the value of the life estate. If your parents held a life estate, they had the right to live in the home that you now own, until the conditions which terminate the life estate are fulfilled. Their life estate has value. Maintenance issues would generally fall upon the owners unless the nephew tenant was obligated to do maintenance pursuant to a lease. Again, you need to have the documents reviewed to get a more thorough answer.