David, you're in my area. I highly recommend Perkins & Anctil in Westford for complex condo law including issues of potential Building/Zoning violations. The big question is "how many units can this become?" I know way too many people who have been bit by this snake. Legal-non-conforming Occupancy is one thing; completely illegal is another altogether.
In the absence of that, call yourself a "paralegal"with no interest in the property, go to the town, and copy every scrap of paper in the Property's Building, Zoning, and Planning files. (three offices, usually). Also check Engineering, Board of Health & Conservation. I don't expect that these offices have anything, but it doesn't hurt to review them. Then take stock of your allowable uses-- and potential liabilities-- according to the documents.
PM me if you want more info; I can guide you through the Due Diligence at least.
@Steve McGovern thanks for the info and I will look into all of that. But my ultimate goal is to not split the property up into condos.
Aah sorry. I misunderstood.
The answer to your real question lies in the phrase, "life estate." Sis lives there for as long as she is alive (or until she requires help.) And you're bound to honor that. Your Sister's interest is released upon recording of a Death Certificate (or Doctor's affidavit, in the latter case.)
The covenant runs with the land, so if you NEEDED to sell next year, it would be an encumbrance on your next Owner (thus, significantly reducing your potential consideration.)
Again, get a lawyer to draw it up.
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