Legal Question in Real Estate Law in New Jersey

life estate and sale of property

My parents had me purchase their vacation home for $1.00 and retained a life estate in the property 2 years ago. The deed has been created to reflect this transaction which names me as the owner and my parents having the life estate. My dad recently died, and my sister has power of attorney over my mother who cannot physically take care of her own affairs, but is mentally competent. My sister wants to sell the home, my mother doesn't. I, having the reaminder interest and my name on the deed as owning the property and paying the taxes and upkeep, also do not want to sell the property. Who has the right to sell the home? Can my sister sell the home with POA even though they do not have my appoval or my mothers approval? Thank you.


Asked on 8/23/05, 3:54 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Robert Davies The Davies Law Firm, P.A.

Re: life estate and sale of property

I will assume that you have given all the relevant facts, accurately; if additional relevant facts exist, they could completely change this situation. At the most, your sister can only sell what she has some control over, which is the ownership that your mother has. Your mother has only a life interest, terminating when she dies. Your sister can not sell the full and complete ownership to the property in ANY circumstance because your mother does not have that. More importantly, if your mother and sister disagree, your mother can easily take steps to terminate the power of attorney. This sounds like a situation where discussion and compromise would go a long way to keep peace in the family. That is not always possible, however. Please call if I can assist. 973 890 0400

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Answered on 8/23/05, 10:27 am
Blair Lane, Sr Earp Cohn, P.C.

Re: life estate and sale of property

Based upon the information you provided, it would appear that you own the property with you mother only owning a life interest. Your sister can only sell your mother's interest - which may be difficult. If your mother is not mentally incompetent and disagrees with how your sister is handling the affairs, your mother could void the power of attorney and appoint you or someone else. My office can assist you or your mother with the documentation.

Blair C. Lane, Sr., Esquire, is admitted to practice law in the State of New Jersey and the

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The information contained in this response is intended to

provide general information regarding a general legal question. This information contained in the response is not to be construed as legal advice and you should not rely upon any information as legal advice. Legal advice can only be obtained through a complete consultation with my office or an attorney admitted to practice law in your State. Any information obtained through this response should not be deemed to create any attorney/client relationship.

The law office of Blair C. Lane, Sr., provides “Personal - Professional” Legal Services for clients through out New Jersey and Pennsylvania with a diversified law practice, consisting

of assisting clients and their families with various legal matters including but not limited to Real Estate matters.

The office is located minutes from Philadelphia in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and is

conveniently located to the New Jersey Turnpike, NJ Route 295, NJ Route 70, The Atlantic City

Expressway, Garden State Parkway and the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman bridges.

Blair C. Lane, Sr. Attorney at Law

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Answered on 8/23/05, 12:36 pm

Re: life estate and sale of property

All your sister can sell with your mother's POA is what your mother owns which is only a life estate and you won't find many buyers for that. As long as Mom was mentally competent when she and your Dad transferred the property to you, there is little your sister can do.

Nevertheless, my answer does not constitute a legal opinion or advice as I can not be sure I have all the facts because I haven't had a chance to ask questions. Therefore, I suggest you consult with a Real estate attorney for further advice.

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Answered on 8/23/05, 8:22 am


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