The defendant seller sought review of an
order from the Hall Superior (trial) Court (Georgia), which granted the plaintiff
buyers summary judgment in an action to establish title and to
terminate a life estate.
CASE FACTS The buyers purchased a
tract of land by warranty deed, with reservation of a life estate in
the seller in 1.2 acres that included a mobile home, porch, and shed.
The buyers filed a lawsuit to establish title and to terminate the
life estate. The buyers filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that
the seller ceased occupying the tract as a personal residence in
violation of the warranty deed, and that the seller committed waste by failing to
maintain the property and the improvements on the property. After initially
denying summary judgment to the buyers, the trial court reversed its
ruling on motion for reconsideration.
The trial court held that the
evidence conclusively established that the life tenant failed to
exercise ordinary care for the preservation of the property, so she (the life tenant) had forfeited her interest to the buyers (remaindermen) and they were
entitled to immediate possession. (affirmed)
On appeal, the court affirmed the
trial court's order.
The trial court correctly determined that
the buyers were entitled to judgment as a matter of law under their
alternative theory of recovery, that the life estate was extinguished
under the doctrine of waste.
A life tenant is entitled to the full use and enjoyment of the property if in such use he or she exercises the ordinary care of a prudent person for its preservation and protection and commits no acts which would permanently injure the remainder interest.
The court affirmed the order of the trial court that granted the
buyers summary judgment in an action filed against the seller to
establish title and to terminate the life estate.
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