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Are there any other options to avoid a foreclosure sale on vacant land?

Minetto, NY |

My parents who are now deceased had a parcel of vacant land that did not sell with the main property. The property was listed in mine and my brothers names (life estate) prior to their passing. There was estate monies put aside to pay these property taxes, but that fund has now been depleted as the property has not sold. My brothers and I have not been able to pay anymore as we are on fixed incomes. A notice came regarding foreclosure sometime in September of this year. Are there any other options, such as a Deed transfer, etc?? Will I be sued for deficiency? What will this do to my credit? Can an attorney if hired help with this? Thank you!

Attorney Answers 2


One possibility is to sell the land by private sale or auction before the county gets around to selling it. Of course, it needs to sell for enough to pay the broker or auctioneer with enough left over to pay off all the taxes. Alternatively, if the sale contract states that the buyer is buying subject to all outstanding taxes owed and assumes the liability for those taxes, and you find a buyer willing to buy under those terms, then that would solve your problem. One thing that is not clear from your question might make a difference here. Who was given the life estate? Did your parents grant you a life estate but remain the owners after the termination of your life estate. Or did your parents deed the property to you as new owners but retain a life estate for themselves during their remaining lifetimes? If all the unpaid taxes accrued while they were still living, then the obligation to pay those taxes would have been theirs. The tax debt does run with the land. So if they passed away owing taxes, those unpaid taxes are a claim against the land and the land could be sold by the county to pay those taxes. However, you would have a good defense to being personally liable for any taxes that accrued before your parents passed away. If you are sued for this debt (deficiency) and if a judgment is entered against you it will almost certainly appear on your credit report and it would have a negative effect. You should immediately seek the advice of a qualified real estate attorney and find out if it is not too late to answer, or advisable to answer, the foreclosure complaint to contest any assertion of personal liability on your part. Also discuss the possibility and procedures for getting the property sold prior to the foreclosure sale.

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I infer from your statement that you and another are the life tenants. If you fail to pay the taxes on it, the remainderman can either pay the taxes and recover the amount paid by suing you, the life tenants. If, without the remainderman's knowledge, you fail to pay the taxes and the property is sold for nonpayment of taxes, the remainderman can have the tax deed set aside and presumably come after you for the money. A transfer deed, by sale, requires clear title (no liens ) unless it includes the assumption of the debt and its payment, but if there's a remaindeman, s/he has to be party to the sale too since they have an interest in the property demonstrated on the title. I think that your liability is to the remainderman and of greater concern there than the county, which will proably be satisfied with the tax sale.

If you found this "helpful" or "best answer," please click it with my appreciation. My response is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice nor creates an attorney client relationship which requires all the details and a personal conference.

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