Real Estate Law Post 2

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This is for California

Review fee simple interests, life estates, and remainder interests in your readings. Then tackle this scenario. Include ethical standards from the ABA or your home state in your posts.

Ernie and Mike are brothers who farm near each other. They each own a house and each owns his own farm land. Neither has ever been married, neither presently intends to marry, and they are both over 50 years of age. Other than each other, their closest relative, their heir, is their niece, Donna. Ernie and Mike have both made out wills giving their entire estates to Donna.

Mike has now asked Ernie to deed his land to him, Mike, and retain a life estate. He feels Ernie is likely to die first, so he wants to get Ernie’s land after Ernie’s death without probate. Then, Donna would get it after Mike’s death.

The lawyer who has prepared the deed has been the legal adviser for both brothers and both are paying him for this transaction.

  1. If that deed with retained life estate is signed and recorded, who would get the land described in the life estate deed if Ernie dies first, Donna or Mike?
  2. Ernie plans to demolish what he considers to be an outdated barn. However, Donna has always admired this barn and feels it should be kept in repair, not destroyed.

    If this deed is signed and recorded and the younger brother, Mike, dies first, what, rights or powers does Donna, as owner of the remainder interest, have to control or stop waste to the buildings? Can she stop Ernie from demolishing the barn if it has a substantial monetary value?

  3. What topics might a thorough and ethical attorney cover in an advice letter to Ernie before Ernie signs the deed?

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