Does Life Estate Deed allow son to run cattle on dad’s land?

Dear Mr. Premack: My father left me land and a house in a Life Estate. He kept the right to live there till his death and any proceeds the land may incur such as lease money. He is not living on the property and I want to clear shrubs and trees from the land and use it for cattle. Can he stop me from using the land? – BM

From your description, it sounds like your father used a traditional Life Estate arrangement. Under it, Texas Law says that he retains all control, use and enjoyment of the property so long as he is alive. Texas Law further states that at the moment of his death, all those rights are transferred to you instantly. But so long as he is alive, Texas Law states your rights are extremely limited: you can veto the sale of the property and you are entitled to ownership upon his death. You have no right to enter the property without his consent. You have no right to clear shrubs and trees without his consent. You have no right to run cattle on the land without his consent. Thus, your best plan may be to seek his consent, and perhaps lease the land from him under an agreement that terminates at the moment of his passing.

Paul Premack is a Certified Elder Law Attorney practicing estate planning and probate law in San Antonio.

Original Publication: San Antonio Express News, March 19, 2012

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Paul Premack has been a Board Member and has served as President of the Texas Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and is a Member of the Washington Chapter of NAELA. He is *Certified as an Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the National Elder Law Foundation as accredited by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and the ABA. He is licensed to practice law in the States of Texas and Washington and handles Estate Planning and Probate in Texas and Washington, including and Bexar County and King County Probate, Wills, Living Trusts, Durable and Medical Powers of Attorney, and Elder Law. Premack writes the legal column for the San Antonio Express News which is syndicated in other Hearst Newspapers around the USA.

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