This brief case study relates to joint owner’s responsibilities when there is an usufruct. We received an enquiry from a man saying that on his wife’s death a few years ago he was granted the usufruct of her half of the property. He retained ownership of his half as the property had been purchased in their joint names in equal shares.
However since her death, he has actually paid all the expenses of the property including property tax, house insurance, repairs, redecoration and replacement of damaged or broken items, drain repairs etc. He has also been paying the insurance premiums, gardener and cleaner, plus repainting of the property
and renewing the roof.
His late wife’s children will inherit one half of the property on his death, and his remaining half he will leave in his Will to be inherited by his daughter.
He was wondering what payments his stepchildren should be making to assist?
Also as he pays the insurance premiums every year who would receive the insurance money if the house was destroyed?
The answer on this case study was quite clear
The man is a 50% owner and has the usufruct (right to stay in the house for the rest of his life) from his wife (as per her Will).
The law is clear. Co-owners must contribute with the maintenance of the house according with the percentage of ownership.
Therefore, this gentleman could (if he wished) claim 50% of the expenses required to maintain the house, including community fees, IBI/Suma property tax, house insurance, plus other items.
What he could not claim is water, electricity, the utilities,because he has possession of the house and so is using those, not the children who were left ownership and will inherit.
In relation to the insurance it depends on the policy. But normally you can choose the beneficiary of the insurance, so he should name himself as a beneficiary.
We hope this helps anyone searching for clarification on this issue. If you have any queries on usufructs please contact us to discuss this.