If you grant someone a life tenancy over your property in a will, then it is important to designate what responsibility that person has to maintain the property. This can often avoid conflicts.
People often seek to avoid any conflicts between family members who might want to receive the same property as an inheritance by using a life estate. A father might grant his second wife a life estate in his home and designate that the property should go to his children from a previous marriage, after the second wife passes away.
The person who gets the life estate is called a life tenant.
While this can be a good way to avoid some family conflicts and make sure property stays in the family, it can also create different conflicts as the Edinburg Review points out in “Designate rights and duties of life tenant in will’s bequest.”
The problem is that the life tenant might have different ideas about how the property should be maintained than the people who will inherit it later.
The ultimate inheritors might object, if the tenant wants to completely redo the interior of a home.
Unless the parties can resolve the conflict, they could end up in court.
For this reason, it is a good idea to include in the will what the life tenant is responsible for regarding maintenance and any limitations on how the life tenant can use the property.
Reference: Edinburg Review (Jan. 8, 2018) “Designate rights and duties of life tenant in will’s bequest.”