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PROPERTY - REVOCABLE LICENSE DISTINGUISHED FROM LIFE ESTATE - REARICK V. SIEVING

Rearick v. Sieving, [Ms. 2110473, Aug. 24, 2012] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. Civ. App. 2012). Anita Rearick conveyed property to Mr. and Mrs. Sieving. Because Ms. Rearick lived on the property and was emotional at the closing, the Sievings instructed the closing attorney "to draft an agreement allowing Rearick to continue living on the property." In that agreement, the Sievings "agree[d] to allow Anita M. Rearick to live in the present residence ... for the rest of her natural life." Rearick started allowing relatives to live on the property, and the Sievings ultimately brought this action to terminate the agreement. Rearick contended that she had a life estate, but the trial court held that the instrument granted her only a revocable license. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed, holding that the trial court had properly allowed parol evidence because the document was ambiguous. The Court found no Alabama cases "addressing whether an agreement to allow a person to live on real property for his or her natural life creates a life estate or a license." The Court held that the Sievings' agreement "to allow ... Rearick to live in the present residence" was indicative of a revocable license.
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