Life estate could help prevent property disputes down the road

Published 10:34 pm Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dear Lawyer Mark: So I was walking down a sidewalk in Ironton the other day and when I was approaching the entrance way to an alley a car just pulled right out.

At first I was quite frightened but after I composed myself I realized that I possibly could have been injured. I talked to some friends of mine after this and they stated that they had experienced similar circumstances.

I guess what I am getting to is whether there is a law out there that regulates cars approaching a sidewalk from an alley. Thanks for helping.

Email newsletter signup

— Cussing in Ironton

Dear Cussing in Ironton:

I must agree with you that such circumstances have been occurring with more frequency in this area. Under the Ohio Revised Code a car that is approaching a sidewalk from an alley must stop immediately prior to driving unto such sidewalk. If by chance there is no existing sidewalk then the motorist must stop to the point nearest to the street where he or she can see approaching traffic.

Dear Lawyer Mark: I’ve got a property question for you. My wife and I have owned our house for years, and we’re not getting any younger.

We were thinking about just giving our house to our daughter, but we don’t get along too well with her husband and are afraid he might try to put us out later on.

Is there any way that we can set it up so that she doesn’t have to go to probate court after we’re dead to get the house? The house is all we’ve got, we don’t own nothing else so we don’t want to do a will.

— Elderly Couple

Dear Couple: First of all, I recommended that everyone make a will. There may be assets that you don’t know about, or that you may inherit later from others, which you might not have time to dispose of prior to death. It’s always better that they be disposed of according to your wishes than according to the State.

That being said, there is a way that you can give your property to your daughter without her husband being able to put you out.

You can deed a life estate to yourselves, with the remainder to your daughter.

This means that you can stay in your house as long as you are alive, but once you are dead the land will pass to your daughter.

She will only have to sign what is called an affidavit – a sworn statement reciting the facts of the deed, and attach a copy of the death certificate.

It’s The Law is written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at The right to condense and/or edit all questions is reserved.