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Life use of property

My daughter owns the home that I am living in. The home is free and clear of debt and she gave me "life use" of the property so that I could file for the Star Exemption. She is in the process of selling the home and they found a lien posted on me PERSONALLY not on the property and they are saying that this has to be paid before the house is sold. Is that correct? I have relinquished my right to "life use" and my name is NOT on the deed or recorded anywhere in association with this property so I don't understand why this could be true. Please help....this could be very serious for her and myself.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous | Joined: June 8, 2004 01:06 am | Posts: 0 | Location: New Jersey | 00 Dollars($)

It depends.

First Issue: If the lien placed on you (and I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "on me PERSONALLY"...a lien is generally put on a propety, account, etc.) is related to taxes on the property, utilities provided at the property, or work done on the property, then you probably do have a problem, even if it was you rather than the daughter who normally paid the taxes, used the utilities, or requested the work to be done.

As to whether the lien was recorded properly enough to apply to the property, you need to find out the laws in your state. It probably depends on what the lien is for, and whether a time limitation of recording it properly against the property has expired or not.

In MA where I live, for instance, if you had a plumber fix a leaky pipe in your daughter's house, and he billed you rather than her (probably due to you requesting the work rather than her, etc.) he still has 43 days from the completion of the work to record a "Mechanic's Lien" against the property. And if he records it improperly against you rather than against her property, he might still have recourse against her and/or the property if a court finds that she allowed you to misrepresent yourself as the owner when you were not.

The same sort of thing applies if it is any sort of utility or tax bill related to the property which you were being billed for despite her being the owner, but time limits may be much longer than for a mechanic's lien.

Only if your lien problem really is TOTALLY unrelated to the property (e.g., income tax bill, alimony, etc) then I agree that it's unlikely to affect your daughter if push comes to shove.

Second issue: Generally, a STAR exemption is for a homeOWNER, so just by having taken it, you may have already misrepresented yourself as the homeOWNER, hence made it reasonable for people to think that liens would apply to you rather than your daughter. If "life use" qualifies you to get the same rights as a homeowner, then maybe (or maybe not) it saddles you with some of the responsibilities too (such as allowing your actions to cause liens on you to apply to the property you have life use of, too.)

Third Issue: If you were truly granted "Life Use" or a "Life Estate" for the property, then the very fact she is now selling it while you are still alive, may show some bad faith about the arrangement as just a trick to get the exemption.

Sounds like you need a lawyer to sort out what the real story is about these issues in your state.

I'm not an attorney, so don't take the above as legal advice.

Like | Dislike | Share | Posted: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 14:06

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