Author Topic: On inheritance and keeping family peace  (Read 131183 times)

thebadguy

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On inheritance and keeping family peace
« on: July 12, 2014, 07:07:14 AM »
After my parents died, nine and six years ago, my four siblings and I inherited their estate. Their home and money was left in equal portions to all five of us, and we have more or less divided the money equally. The sticking point is the house. My older brother lived with my mother a couple of years before she died and has continued to live in the home for the six years since her death. Originally we talked it over and decided it worked for everyone for him to stay there for a year because he needed a place to live and we needed time to sort through my parents' belongings.
A year later we revisited the situation. My brother wanted to continue to live in the house but he is completely broke because he is still paying for the house in which his estranged wife lives. He has a good job and makes good money, more money than I do, but he is in debt up to his eyeballs. He had been sick during the year and we thought it was the most compassionate thing to let him continue to live in the house for another year. Since that time he has not wanted to revisit the topic. He has made the house his home, he does not pay rent but he does pay taxes and insurance. He has also done some repairs on the house, but he has made it clear he doesn't want to have to seek permission for every project he does, so I don't know exactly what he has done. He has asked for and received money from my parents' estate to do some of the work. He has paid for other projects himself, or asked another brother for financial assistance. A year ago he moved his girlfriend and her 21 year old son into the house without consulting anyone.
So here is the issue we all tip toe around because we don't want to upset whatever family harmony remains since my parents' death.
Five of us inherited the house. One of us lives in it and benefits from it. He has no intention of leaving, though I know he doesn't have the money to buy it and probably couldn't even get a loan because he is so financially strapped. Nobody wants to be the bad guy and state the obvious: either the house should be sold or the brother living in it should buy out the rest of us. We know he can't do that and are afraid of coming across as greedy by asking for our share of the home's value. It would put him out of a nice place to live. Financially the rest of us range from quite well off to eeking out a life in a tiny apartment on disability. I am somewhere in between. I have worked one job for 25 years, I am financially secure and am planning for retirement, hopefully within 5 years or so. I could use the money from the house to help finance my retirement. But I would survive without it. So what do I do? Do I keep my mouth shut, as I have done for six years, and keep the family peace or do I play the bad guy and ask my brother what his plans are with respect to his buying or our selling the house? Be assured that this discussion will create hard feelings.  My sister would like to bring closure to this issue but is hesitant to put him out of a decent living situation. She has tried to initiate a conversation with him but he has shut her down. Another brother is very close to him and would do anything for him, including giving him money to pay for taxes and repairs on the house, which he has done even though he lives on a fixed retirement income and could use the money. The disabled brother doesn't say much, sort of goes with the flow. The brother who lives in the house is a dominant family force, he is very smart, and self admittedly always looking for the angle that will benefit him most. My relationship with him is pretty much shot because I have lost respect for him, but I don't want to jeopardize my relationship with other siblings in the potential fall out of calling this brother out on the house issue. My head is exploding. Thoughts?

SDREMNGR

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2014, 07:26:59 AM »
Tough spot.  I've had to intervene in family situations between siblings and exes and they can get ugly.  It sounds like you have to lead the revolt or nothing will happen.  The older brother has made his case clear and everyone else is letting it happen.  And from the sound of it it's basically 2 vs. 2 with the disabled brother the tie breaker and he would probably vote with you guys.

I would bring it up individually with the other 3 siblings.  If the one brother really wants to help, perhaps he can buy out the rest and do what he wants with the house.  Or the older brother should pay a fair rent (or slightly below market rent) for living there.  I wouldn't say that it's not HIS house, but that it's your house too and you want to have a say in what happens to it.

Most likely the relationship with this brother is shot.  Talk to the sister and disabled brother and come up with a united front on a few offers.  1. Pay rent. 2. Sell home. 3. Have close brother buy out the 3 of you by getting 2 appraisals (will cost about $250-400 each appraisal) and take the middle figure.

Good luck.

Seņora Savings

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2014, 07:32:16 AM »
My sympathies.  Estate division seems to be one the most divisive topics in a family. 

I would recommend that you talk to a lawyer to see what you can do.  It's possible that you've already lost your rights to the house, in which case you can give up.  Once you know what is possible I wouldn't involve the lawyer any further.

Knowing what is possible, I would then sit down with your three other siblings and come up with an arrangement that works for you and decide how far you're willing to go to get it.  Your brother doesn't want to talk about it so don't talk, give him the option of moving out or meeting you demands (rent or buyout).  I think that by getting all four other siblings to agree you can avoid the type of fallout you can get with 3 vs 2.

Once you come up with a plan that all five have agreed on, I would get in notorized to make it official.


Jennifer in Ottawa

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2014, 07:32:59 AM »
In an unequal distribution of an estate there will always be acrimony, unless you decide otherwise.

In my opinion the best course of action for you would be to just let it go.  In the ideal world your brother would move so that the estate could sell the house and split the proceeds between you all.  That isn't going to happen.  At least not apparently without involving lawyers and eventually the sheriff, and that could well chew through any proceeds realized from the sale of the house.

If your relationship with your siblings is what matters most than I would just accept the value of the house as gone.  Your other siblings are adults and can choose their own course of action.

If all your other siblings were inclined to evict the tenant brother, then that's a different story.  Then I would back them and face the possibility that tenant brother would become an estranged sibling, but that doesn't seem to be the case here.

I guess it depends on how strongly your sister feels about this, and how much any financial windfall would help out your disabled brother in managing his care and keeping.

This is a tough one, and someone is going to get hurt either way.  You're damned if you do and damned if you don't.  My sincerest best wishes in choosing your path out of and beyond this.

Noodle

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2014, 07:37:40 AM »
You might also need to talk to a lawyer to see what options are if the other two aren't willing to budge. Unfortunately, there is probably no way to work this out without some emotional fallout...but remember it is your oldest brother's doing by taking advantage of the rest of you. If your parents had wanted him to have the house, they would have given it to him.

To start on a less confrontational note, you might just say that you were happy to accommodate a family member for a few years, but as retirement grows near (I assume for all of you, since you're the same generation), you need to start getting your financial resources together. I might also consider a longer timeline than I would for a stranger...like a year to be finally moved out (assuming none of the financial options appeal).

begood

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2014, 07:44:49 AM »
It sounds like a fraught situation. :(

Is there any way your disabled brother could move into your parents' house too? Share and reduce expenses that way? Then at least 2/5 of the children would be benefiting from the inherited house.

frugaliknowit

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2014, 07:49:58 AM »
I think it would be a good idea to see a lawyer for an initial consult to find out what all of your rights are.

Then, ALL of you need to set up a meeting (not some of you, ALL of you).  The way I would approach it is you should all ask the brother living there what he thinks is fair, then take it from there.  Proceed very slowly and with calm, compassion and love.  Let everyone calmly speak and take it from there to try to reach an agreement. 

A couple of ideas I would float:

1.  Sell with an uneven distribution.
2.  Below market rent.  If this is the case, your brother needs to stop making unauthorized repairs or maybe you could all agree to deduct them from the rent.


I do not believe that being silent will keep the family peace in the long run as it will foster resentment.  Your brother certainly deserves something for living with your Mom, if that was necessary.

thebadguy

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2014, 08:20:51 AM »
Thanks frugaliknowit
My sister tried to talk to my brother about setting up a meeting when she heard he wanted to get rid of  things of my parents' to make more room for his own things. All she tried to do was set up a time when she could go there and see what he wanted to get rid of so she could have it moved to a safe place rather than thrown in the garage or basement. He wouldn't even respond to this.
I have said to my sibs that I will not go in there and remove a single thing b/c it just makes it all the more convenient for him to put his signature on the place. I am the youngest and have so far yielded to the "calmer heads" of my elder sibs, but they know how I feel.
When my brother lived with my mother, she did benefit from not being alone during the week, he was away on the weekend when he wasn't working. He moved in with her because he had nowhere to go after he separated from his wife, he was sick and he needed a place to live close to his work. They both benefitted from the situation. The family felt better knowing she wasn't alone. He did not provide care for her, it was more the other way around until the very end, and then we were all there. I think your idea about him paying an official rent is a good one. I'm pretty sure he perceives his payment of taxes, insurance and maintenance/repair more than covers rent. I have drafted an email that praises the work he has done there and simply asks what he is thinking about the house with respect to the longer term - buy? sell? I'm just very hesitant to pull the trigger for reasons stated. He is a very tough customer and I could come off to family members looking like a jerk. Instead, as you pointed out, I just quietly resent him
thanks again

pipercat

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2014, 08:53:03 AM »
I like your approach though.  Simply ask him what he's planning to do about the house long-term.  I'm also curious whose name is listed on the deed.  I also think it would help to consult an attorney.

However it gets resolved, there does need to be a resolution.  If one of the siblings were to pass away, you would then be dealing with more people (their kids and maybe spouses) who may try to stake a claim.

I feel your pain.  I'm the youngest of four siblings and we have had to deal with estate division as well.  Good luck!

bdub

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2014, 09:07:37 AM »
You stated "He has asked for and received money from my parents' estate" which implies there is some sort of executor or trust. If that is true, then they have a responsibility to resolve the issue.  Based on your wording, it sounds like the executor is not a family member.  I would look at this approach.

Villanelle

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2014, 09:12:48 AM »
I'd put it back to him.  "Hey, bob.  When we started, having you live here was a temporary situation.  We'd talked about one year.  Obviously, things have changed, but it's time that we come up with a permanent solution.  What do you propose for going  forward long term, since they current set up just isn't sustainable for us.  We are open to a lot of options, so we thought we'd start by asking you and seeing if you have any proposals or solutions. "  Obviously, content will need to adjust slightly depending on how many of your siblings buy into it, and how much. 

If he balks or refuses to respond, take it up with the executor and make it clear that you expect to have your share in hand or have the property listed by X date.  Or, just suck it up, if you feel that's the better approach.  It's really their job to do this.  They are generally paid a % of the estate to do that job.

Cwadda

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2014, 09:24:34 AM »
I don't know a whole lot about this subject, but are there any liens on the house? Could you have it become reverse mortgaged and have the payments distributed to the remaining four?

Daleth

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2014, 09:53:54 AM »
Two posters have suggested that "the value of the house is gone" and that "it's possible you've already lost your rights to the house."

I don't see that AT ALL. The house belonged to your parents and was left to all of you. Presumably the estate went through probate and things got retitled appropriately (i.e., in the names of all of you, or perhaps of some trust of which all of you are beneficiaries). If it didn't, then presumably it is still incorrectly titled in the names of your parents or whichever parent was the last to pass away. Long story short, I don't see any way that this house could now be titled solely in the name of the brother who's living there. (Obviously I don't know anything about the specific facts here, but this is my educated guess as a lawyer in the US).

That said, there is something called adverse possession that lets a person basically squat on land or in a house and eventually gain possession of it that way, but in most jurisdictions where that exists (it doesn't exist everywhere), it takes on the order of 20 years--not just the few years that have passed in this case--unless the adverse possessor (here, the brother) is there "under color of title," i.e., he holds some title document that indicates the place belongs exclusively to him... and in that case it takes more like 7 years. I don't know how he could've gotten such title, and I'm not even sure adverse possession (i.e., him depriving the other siblings of their rights) is possible where he actually is one of the true legal owners, because normally adverse possession is defined in terms of a trespasser who has no legal rights, but eventually acquires them by squatting. In other words I'm not sure if true legal owner A can deprive true legal owners B through D of their rights just by squatting on property that they all own. Also, the fact the other siblings gave him permission to live there may defeat any possibility that he could claim title through adverse possession, because if you give someone permission then their presence is no longer "adverse" or hostile, as typically required.

But the laws are different in every state and that's why, OP, you do need to talk to a lawyer in the state where the house is. For maybe $200-$300 you could get an hour of some lawyer's time, or maybe 2 hours if you're in a smaller or more rural area, to tell you whether adverse possession is a risk here and what your options are.

One question: Who is the executor of the parents' estate?
« Last Edit: July 12, 2014, 09:57:58 AM by Daleth »

DrJohn

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2014, 10:09:22 AM »
One alternative to dragging this through (expensive and painful) courts and lawyers might be to seek arbitration e.g.:

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/arbitration-basics-29947.html

Just a suggestion...

Good Luck!

thebadguy

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2014, 11:04:58 AM »
When my mother died my sister was made temporary executor of the estate, not sure how long that was good for, but when my brother has gotten money it has been from her. We keep some of my parents' money in an account for "house emergencies". Her husband told her there are certain things a landlord needs to do for a tenant, such as replace the furnace when it died and the roof when it got leaky.  She is the oldest of my parents' children and is still sort of the one my brother reports to, when he chooses to report anything. She also tries to be a peace keeper. All of our names are on the house, of that I am sure.  We all gave my brother express permission to live in the house and nobody has asked him to leave or even questioned how long he thinks he might be there after the first year.  Everyone is afraid to make waves, afraid to look greedy, afraid to be made to feel responsible for my brother ending up in less than stellar living conditions - all this fear on his account. But he fears nothing, he is sitting like a king in his castle on the hill. And I am just incredulous that he can look in the mirror and say yup it's ok for me to do this on the backs of my sibs. My brother on disability, also one fifth owner of the house, lives literally two miles down the road in a brick apartment building in subsidized housing. He doesn't go to the house much because he is not made to feel welcome and it is painful for him to see my parents' footprints disappear and be replaced little by little with my brother and his girlfriend's and son's footprints. Ironically my brother who lives in the house holds him in some disdain because he is supported by the state and doesn't have a job. When we discussed how we could use our parents' money to best help our disabled brother, he said not a penny of his inheritance should go to this freeloader. He will be upset when his tenure is questioned. At one time many years ago he said he wanted to stay but couldn't afford to buy so all we had to do was say the word and he'd be gone. We felt too sorry for him to say it. But I don't think he would react in the same manner now and I've stopped feeling sorry for him. He's my brother, I care about his well-being. But I feel like I need to make a decision either to open this can of worms or live with the way things are. Whoever said my parents would have left the house to him if they wanted him to have it was right - they would not appreciate the house now being referred to as HIS house. But parents who are living have no idea how their congenial children are going to behave after they're gone. Case in point.

thebadguy

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2014, 11:24:19 AM »
I should add that now the girlfriend has fallen ill since my brother moved her and her son in unannounced last year, and she is recovering from cancer. So all over again we are faced with turning yet another person who is not healthy out of a nice home. So then you find yourself asking, well I have a nice place to live (because I worked my tail off for it), and I have the ability to make that a long term possibility for these guys who are struggling, if I just do nothing, so as long as I have what I need shouldn't I do that? They may not deserve it, but they may just need it. It's pretty complicated.

KBecks2

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2014, 11:41:10 AM »
One thing is that it is hard to let go of your parents. They are gone, and so they don't have a house anymore. The house is all of the siblings house. But, it is awkward that only one sibling uses it. I am sure that your brother living in the house feels that it is his house, and that he has finagled his way into getting a free house!

Go to your oldest sister who served as executor. Talk with her, and then the two of you should go together to see a lawyer. Your issue is that you want your full share of the estate. The result is that you will end up kicking your brother out of this house and selling your parents house. Your brother will need to find another place to live.

Otherwise, you continue going on as it is, letting your brother live there basically for free. I doubt  that he will ever pay any rent. You've got to be realistic. So what do you want? Do you want to evict your brother and receive your share of your inheritance, or do you want to give your brother a free gift? Which is the better answer?

There is stress and heartache either way. You're either Skurvin yourself, or creating family drama. But if you get the drama done, then it's at least settled. You don't need to be super close to your siblings anyway.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2014, 11:43:22 AM by KBecks2 »

KBecks2

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2014, 11:46:33 AM »
Last question is, what do you think the house is worth, and is one fifth of the value of the home enough for your brother to get set up and up an apartment?  Does your brother work? Know that, in the end the home is going to be used by someone else, I am so sorry.

socaso

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2014, 11:49:06 AM »
I think you need to gather all the other siblings together and meet with a lawyer to discuss your options. Then you come up with 2-3 options that you would all be satisfied with and present those to the brother squatting in the house. Arrange to meet him in a neutral place, such as the lawyer's office with the lawyer present. I think it would take a lot of the wind out of his sails to realize that you have consulted a lawyer and are very serious about resolving this issue. It sounds like he doesn't have the money for a legal battle so he will have to choose an option.

On another note, the girlfriend dilemma: yes it's sad she has cancer and that really is too bad, but you say that your own disabled brother doesn't feel comfortable going over to his parent's former home because of the current occupants. This does not sound right at all to me and you should factor that into the amount of sympathy you are willing to dole out to these folks.

Dee

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2014, 12:08:23 PM »
What I am concerned about in reading this is not so much whether you are getting your share of the house, since you can be fine without or without it, but whether some of your other siblings' not getting their share of the house is really hurting them and doing a disservice to what your parents wanted when they planned the distribution of their estate. It seems to me as though the person in charge of the estate is abdicating a duty by not seeing it through. I do think there is more benefit to having the value of the house distributed between the five of you, as your parents intended, than in not rocking the boat.

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2014, 01:07:15 PM »
Your older brother has lived rent and mortgage-free for 8 years, has a good job and makes good money, and is still in debt to his eyeballs?  He belongs in the Anti-Mustachian Wall of Shame and Comedy.

You have a brother who is retired on a fixed income and is sufficiently under the older brother's thumb to give him money for standard living expenses (taxes and repairs on the house).  You have a disabled brother   Your sister has made some attempts to deal with the situation which have been ineffectual.  She has apparently been told by her husband that the estate needs to pay for repairs on the basis on landlord/tenant liability (which ignores the fact that your brother has no lease and does not pay rent, so is not a tenant).  Your disabled brother lives in subsidized housing and has been made to feel unwelcome in his parent's former home.

If you were in the UK, the answer is that the executors of your parent's estate would have a legal duty to distribute the estate according to the will, including selling the house and distributing the proceeds.  So, who are the executors?  Have a look at the will and grant of probate/letters of administration to check this: either your sister should have these documents or they will be available at the local court house.  The executors probably have the immediate right/duty to put the house on the market, and it should only take the wishes of one beneficiary expressed formally to them in writing for the sale and distribution to go ahead.  If the executors fail to act, then a court order to force the sale should be obtainable, and the expenses for that should come out of the estate.   Your older brother has no say in any of this, and would be subject to court eviction if he failed to move out in accordance with the terms of the sale.

So the answer is for you to find out who the executors are, and write a formal letter requiring the property to be sold and the proceeds distributed.  A lawyer could write this for you, or you could say in the formal letter that if the executors fail to put the property on the market within [defined period], you will be consulting lawyers with a view to requesting a court order forcing the sale.

I agree there is the danger of your being seen as "the bad guy".  You need to express what you are doing to your siblings as wanting to see that your parent's final wishes are respected.  You could perhaps say that you want to see your older brother standing on his own two feet and making permanent arrangements for his future life with his girlfriend rather than living in the unsatisfactory limbo of an estate that should have been settled six years ago.

There is a very unsatisfactory issue as to how the costs of maintaining the property for the last six years should be accounted for in the split of the proceeds, and how or whether a notional rent should be deducted from your older brother's share.  An agreement not to claim a deduction for a notional rent might be one part of the reasoning used to persuade your older brother to go along with the sale and distribution of proceeds.

Good luck.

thebadguy

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2014, 02:09:37 PM »
Ha ha - well I had no idea who Mr Money Mustache even was until I just looked it up - I was just looking for a place to get some advice other than from friends or family members. Fitting though! I live pretty frugally and have always been a saver, which is why I have zero debt, I own my home, my car, I have significant savings toward retirement, and I will receive a respectable pension beginning in a few years. So you're right. I'm ok with or without the proceeds of my parents' house. I do have a couple of sibs who sure could use some extra money, but I'm the one with my panties in a bunch. How about that. It's such a question of principle to me, and ethics. Instead of saying to themselves, what we're doing isn't right or fair, my brother and his girlfriend are congratulating themselves that they have pulled this thing off and are living large. That bothers me immensely.  And my brother has a large enough ego to know that it will be nearly impossible for anyone to have the stones to question him. At this point if there is anyone who is going to be that person it is me, the little sister by 8 years who grew up completely idolizing this guy and holding him on a super hero's pedestal. Lots of people did, he's just that kind of guy - great looking, great athlete, intellectually evolved, charismatic, etc. He fell from the pedestal a long time ago, he knows that, but it's still hard to let go of some of that feeling of power he has when he's around you. My mother told me shortly before she died that the thing that would upset her most was to know that there was discord among her children, especially on her account, that couldn't be fixed. That weighs heavy on me. I also feel like she would not approve of the situation as it exists now, but there is a tiny part of me that wonders if she would say you should give to he or she who is in greatest need - because she spent her life giving. Anyway, thanks for reading. I guess I know what I have to do. I have to pull the trigger on the "I need some answers" memo. I just still am extremely nervous what the fall out will be, with my brother, his adult children, my other siblings when he tells them, "Well it looks like little sister wants me out of here. As if she doesn't have enough already." - or something to that effect. I know him well enough to know what to expect.
thanks again - hoo boy

Exflyboy

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #22 on: July 12, 2014, 02:27:02 PM »
Only one way this will end.. with a lot of hurt feelings.

But YOUR feelings are already hurt because this Brother is taking advantage.

You either have to get him to agree to a plan or your gonna have to force him.

The only plan that is acceptable is you get what is rightfully yours.. This will almost certainly in cash when the house is sold.

Its tough but its the really only option.

Frank

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2014, 02:29:24 PM »
I'd be wary of sending an email praising the work your brother has done on the house if you don't know what that work is, how well it was done or how much it cost.

If you ask him in the email what he wants to do with the house, you are giving him the power to do nothing with it, so that gets you no further forward.

I can't see any communication which you could have directly with your older brother which is going to get you anywhere on this.  The executors of the estate are the people you should be writing to.

Frankies Girl

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2014, 02:45:21 PM »
I've seen three estates through (on the sidelines anyway - grandfather, grandmother with my mother being the executrix and my own father passed away just about a year ago, sister was executrix).

My dad died in 2012, my sister and I inherited equally, and the house was retitled to us once it got through probate in about 4 months. My grandmother's house was inherited equally by 5 siblings - most of whom hated each other. One sibling forced that house and other property to auction (it only takes one) and it happened within 6 months of the death. Both of these estates involved large amounts of money and property and had some pretty messed up crazy stuff in the case of my grandmother's estate - fraud/forgery/theft committed by one of my aunts, theft of property by another aunt, uncle demanding at gravesite money "owed" to him, a mediator was brought in as aunts hated each other so it was the only way to get some things worked out -  it wasn't easy at all to deal with, but it was ALL done within a year.

I don't understand how your parent's estate is still open. Was there some sort of legal or complicated property deal that needed to take 5+ years to settle? If there weren't any extenuating factors, then this estate should have been settled, all property and money distributed to the heirs and the estate closed years ago. I'd speak with the sister that was (is?) acting as the executrix, and find out why the estate is still open, and also ask to speak to any lawyer that is involved (and find an estate lawyer if one is not involved). The executor/rix is acting as the estate's fiduciary - meaning they had a legal obligation to act in the best interests of ALL of the beneficiaries - so I honestly don't get being so lackadaisical about this. You and your other siblings have an absolute right to know what is happening and for this estate to be FINISHED. If the estate is still open for no real reason, that's a huge red flag.

Once you get that figured out, there is really only a few solutions open for the settlement of the house. It is retitled into all of your names, and then you either have one or more siblings buy out the other siblings' shares at an agreed upon amount, or you sell the property and the proceeds are split between all siblings. You can't be forced to hold property in your name that you don't want - and even one heir can force an auction of said property. If the brother that is living in the property wants to keep it, that's pretty much his only choices - buy all of you out, or get forced out.

In any case, you absolutely should ask for and receive a meeting with the executrix and the estate lawyer and be able to get firm answers on what your share is and how you can get it. It's not being greedy; if that was the case, you'd have been demanding this years ago. Allowing it to go on for YEARS is just beyond silly - and the executrix might even be causing some of this mess since she didn't step up and do her fiduciary duty - that's pretty serious (I have never heard of a basic estate taking more than 2 years total and that's with some scary messes to clean up... there is NO EXCUSE for this to be going on this long! Not to mention all of the potential tax and liability issues you might be responsible for!).  Dragging this out for any more time is ridiculous and you need to know what your rights and options are. SEE AN ESTATE LAWYER ASAP and make sure the executrix is there and ready to discuss everything.

I think the time for "keeping the family peace" has passed. Your sibling that was acting as executrix should have been handling this. They are not (and they kind of suck for this - seriously). The sibling that is living in the house is taking advantage, and technically stealing from the rest of the heirs. You are not being greedy expecting to get your fair share of what was left to you. But until someone points this out to the executrix (who frankly should be removed as they are doing a piss poor job - if they couldn't handle it, they should have stepped down and someone else named to handle it) you are all screwing yourselves over and prolonging something that should have been wrapped up YEARS ago instead of allowing it to fester and become a bigger issue. You're going to have someone mad no matter what, better it's the jerky brother that has been taking advantage all of the years than you or the other siblings that have been basically like doormats (and I'm not meaning that as an insult - I know y'all were just trying to be nice, but jerks like your brother see that as an invitation to walk all over you).


Catbert

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #25 on: July 12, 2014, 03:10:00 PM »
Wow, sounds like a difficult situation.  I think you've gotten some good advice.  This really needs to get resolved one way or another.

I'd also like to point out that if your disabled sister (or low income retired brother) is receiving SSI, subsidized housing or other form of welfare they could be committing fraud if they partially own a house which they aren't declaring.

Villanelle

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #26 on: July 12, 2014, 03:37:43 PM »
If you are really prepared to push this, you might ask sister if she's willing to step down as the executrix.  You'd have to figure out if you could take over, or what the legal technicalities there might be, but it's an option worth pursuing. 

lizzigee

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #27 on: July 12, 2014, 03:43:18 PM »
" there is a tiny part of me that wonders if she would say you should give to he or she who is in greatest need"

Surely if your mother ever thought this at all, it wouldn't be your high earning spendthrift domineering brother that she perceived to have the greatest need?

Sell the house.  With his share of the proceeds plus a decent income, he should be able to afford to rent and furnish a place of his own for himself, his girlfriend and her child.  Then stop being concerned about him - he has shown no concern for his siblings. If your mother wanted him to have the home, to the detriment of her other children, she would have put that in the will instead of leaving it equally. I wouldn't try to get everyone on board, this is bound to force a family split with some siding each way. Just contact an estate lawyer as suggested by previous posters, then get the ball rolling to sell!

Cpa Cat

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #28 on: July 12, 2014, 04:02:37 PM »
So right now there are three adult living in the house and no one is paying rent. It's not as if they don't realize that they're not paying any rent and that they don't own the house. They know full well that they are taking advantage of you and your siblings. So if you think that the right thing to do is to let a few people who are intentionally (and maliciously) taking advantage of this situation keep the house permanently, then do nothing. Forget about it. Pretend it doesn't exist.

Personally, I would contact all four of the siblings and say, "Look, if the long term situation is that Sibling X lives here for free, then I want you guys to buy me out." It doesn't have to be just him. If the other siblings are happy with the way things are, they can all four scrape the money together to pick up your 20%.

But I have less attachment to my siblings than you clearly do. You seem very concerned about people being angry at you. But seriously - it's been six years that this guy has essentially been stealing from you. I don't know why he's worth preserving a relationship with.


MikeBear

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2014, 06:52:19 PM »
Paying rent or not, sibling or not, you agreed to him living there for a certain period of time.

The ONLY way to get him out of there if he won't leave willingly is to go to court and sue for a legal eviction. Just as if he's renting, because in the courts eyes, that's exactly what he's doing. Once it's granted, you can hire the sheriff to toss him out. Stories like this happen everyday, and the court deals with it as due course.

Now, the judge will listen to everything and probably grant him some time/months to leave. Be prepared that he may then trash the house so nothing much is left when he either leaves, or is tossed out by the sheriff. That's just the way it goes on something like this. But maybe not, since he does have an ownership interest and probably wants some cash when it's sold.

One thing is for sure: the relationship between this brother and the others is pretty much already ruined, so just go for the eviction and get it over with. The longer he's there, the more possibility that the court will have some sympathy for him.

Good luck. This all happened to my father-in-law and his sibs several years ago.

Daleth

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2014, 07:50:43 PM »
One thing is that it is hard to let go of your parents. They are gone, and so they don't have a house anymore. The house is all of the siblings house. But, it is awkward that only one sibling uses it. I am sure that your brother living in the house feels that it is his house, and that he has finagled his way into getting a free house!

Go to your oldest sister who served as executor. Talk with her, and then the two of you should go together to see a lawyer. Your issue is that you want your full share of the estate. The result is that you will end up kicking your brother out of this house and selling your parents house. Your brother will need to find another place to live.

Your sister the executor seems not to know what her LEGAL DUTIES as an executor are. She has a fiduciary duty to all the siblings who inherited the house--her duty is, long story short, to manage their inheritance prudently and distribute it to them (ALL of them) as soon as possible. Any sibling could sue her for letting the brother live there this long. I mention that not because you want to sue her but just to highlight that what she is doing is... for lack of a better word... against the law.

If she is not willing to fulfill her duties as executor, any sibling can ask the court (with the help of a lawyer obviously) to replace her as executor. The court could pick another sibling who will handle things more responsibly, or the court could even (probably at your choice) designate some third party to do it; often the third party will be some lawyer or bank officer. The estate then has to pay the lawyer or bank officer to do the work of getting the brother out, but that third-party executor will at least be able to do the job without being susceptible to emotional blackmail by the brother.

This is a "broad strokes"/simplistic version of what your options are. The specifics are something only a lawyer in your state can tell you--an estates and trusts lawyer, to be exact. Forcing an auction may be simpler--ask a lawyer.

Oh, and by the way, "giving your brother a free gift" is not an option. There are tax implications for both you (and your other siblings) and him if you in effect give him the house--a complete mess for everyone to deal with.

Oh and finally... IT'S NOT WHAT YOUR PARENTS WANTED! If they had wanted to leave the house to him alone, to move his girlfriend and her kid into, they would've said so in their will. What they wanted to do was leave it to everyone equally--to give ALL of you (including, of course, your disabled brother) a financial boost. Your sister's duty (or the executor's duty) is to GET THAT DONE.

As for feeling guilty about his unhealthy girlfriend, 1/5 of the value of the house should be sufficient for your brother to get himself and her set up in a new place--whether by renting an apartment or using it as the down payment on a house. You have nothing to feel guilty about. This is what your parents wanted, and it's the only fair outcome for your other siblings (at least some of whom, as you've mentioned, have greater financial need than him).

« Last Edit: July 12, 2014, 07:57:00 PM by Daleth »

secondcor521

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #31 on: July 14, 2014, 11:32:44 PM »
This thread should also serve as a PSA to anyone on this board who currently has their affairs set up to leave undivided property to their heirs.

Personally I have directed in my will that my house be sold and the net proceeds distributed equally to my three kids.

Please folks, make sure that you're not creating the opportunity for similarly painful theatrics among your heirs.

mikefixac

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #32 on: July 15, 2014, 12:21:17 AM »
Let an impartial third party make the final decision, Court.

tomsang

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #33 on: July 15, 2014, 07:49:26 AM »
Where is the executor in this?  This story is not making sense. The estate is not closed until everything is distributed. Did you receive 1/5 of the house?  The executor may be liable if they did not do their job appropriately. Usually the will has a provision about using a mediator. Big fan of that.

If the value or the principal is significant enough then I would force the sale or clarification of fair rent. If not, chock it off as the fun of family.

iris lily

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #34 on: July 15, 2014, 08:17:17 AM »
... My mother told me shortly before she died that the thing that would upset her most was to know that there was discord among her children, especially on her account, that couldn't be fixed. That weighs heavy on me. ...
And yet dear old mom put you all exactly in that situation. Please put the responsibility for inciting discord where it belongs, on her. Of course she didn't intend this, and she set up this situation out of ignorance, as do many parents.

I wonder how much we are really talking about as 1/5 of a share. Keep in mind that your disabled brother could lose benefits if he gets a cash windfall of a certain amount.

I can't add anything that hasn't been articulated above. I think that the acrimony is already there among your siblings and forcing this situation to a conclusion, while likely making it worse for a while, is the way to make it clean and most importantly, done.

MooseOutFront

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #35 on: July 15, 2014, 08:21:45 AM »
How much would the house sell for?

Timmmy

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #36 on: July 15, 2014, 08:33:54 AM »
My first thought is walk away.  Make it clear you're not paying any money towards the house and then wait.  You may or may not at some point get your share when the house is eventually sold. 

The only exception to the above is if the house is very valuable then you may want to force the sale.  If you want to force the issue you probably can but he likely won't go nicely.  He won't be cooperative when selling either so you will have trouble getting full value.  Then take whatever reduced value and figure the estate will get 94% (6% to realtors).  Take that number and divide by 5.  Then reduce your share by the lawyers fees that you'll have to pay to get this done.  Then take a look at what's left and realize that you likely have completely blown up the remainder of your relationships with your family over that amount.  Is it worth it?

I wouldn't do it for 1k, Probably not for 10k, probably would for 100K, no doubt for 1M.  Everyone will have a different number. 

What's the house worth? 


kite

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #37 on: July 15, 2014, 08:42:30 AM »
The house is either still part of your mother's unsettled estate or it isn't.   If the former,  the executor is in need of replacement, and settling the estate requires a sale of the home.   If the estate has actually been settled and you are all equal owners on the title (as you say),  then you are all owners of an investment property.   And getting yourselves into that without any clear plans on how to manage things was foolish.   It becomes even more foolish to remain so, particularly if one of you is disabled.  Very likely that the disabled sibling will be covered by Medicaid under the ACA expansion.   That coverage needs to be paid back out of his estate if the state where he lives participates in estate recovery.   The state can force a sale at the worst possible time. 
In my view,  you can do the following:
1.  Find a buyer for your share.
2. Try to force a sale of the whole thing.
3.  Relinquish gour own personal fifth to one or more of the others via a quitclaim deed.
4.  Wait it out.

Getting emotional about footprints is useless.   Grieve as you must,  but your parents are gone.  The house isn't theirs anymore.  It's an investment asset you own with 4 others.   No more, no less.  You need to decide how being part owner of an asset like this fits into your personal investment strategy and act accordingly.   

ETA:  This isn't a result of Mom leaving her estate to you all equally.   It's a result of you all trying to cling to the family home, where five of you try to be landlords for one of you.  You've got agency here.  In the midst of grief,  we all do some dumb shit.  Just because you stepped in it once,  doesn't mean you need to walk around with it on your shoe forever.  I'm not trying to be mean,  but the sooner you recognize your role in the dumb shit, the easier it will be to get out of it now and avoid it in the future.   
« Last Edit: July 15, 2014, 09:34:57 AM by kite »

WannabeDone

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #38 on: July 15, 2014, 09:02:00 AM »
It seems like your brother is a total narcissist.  He only considers himself and doesn't even recognize he's basically a squatter.  He doesn't see that he himself is getting assistance with free housing and then badmouths his brother who's on disability.  Amazing.

I think the "thebadguy" and I have similar personalities.  Even if I were worth $3 million and my sibling had been squatting in my parents' house and refused to even talk with me and the other siblings about it, I would be pretty infuriated. 

If it were me, I would get the other siblings' opinions on the whole mess and go to him with a consensus on what the "squatter" needs to do to make things right.

PloddingInsight

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #39 on: July 15, 2014, 09:04:17 AM »
The first thing OP needs to do is to realize he's not the bad guy in this situation.

There are already bad feelings and discord among the siblings.  You're not causing it.  Being honest and vocal about what is going on is not causing it.  The cause of discord is your brother who is taking advantage of his siblings.  Let him be responsible for the bad feelings he has caused.  If he makes a big fuss about having to sell the house, let him continue to be responsible for the bad feelings he is creating.  It is not.  your.  fault.

WannabeDone

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #40 on: July 15, 2014, 09:05:48 AM »
Big to PloddingInsight!

Numbers Man

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #41 on: July 15, 2014, 09:33:58 AM »
A lot of good advice in this thread. Just lawyer up and get the house sold. Your Brother is being a DICK and at this point in time any family relationship has already disintegrated beyond the point of no return whether you want to admit it or not.

okashira

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #42 on: July 15, 2014, 09:56:55 AM »
The first thing OP needs to do is to realize he's not the bad guy in this situation.

There are already bad feelings and discord among the siblings.  You're not causing it.  Being honest and vocal about what is going on is not causing it.  The cause of discord is your brother who is taking advantage of his siblings.  Let him be responsible for the bad feelings he has caused.  If he makes a big fuss about having to sell the house, let him continue to be responsible for the bad feelings he is creating.  It is not.  your.  fault.

Agreed.
Time to have your brother man up, if it's financially reasonable for you to do so.
(if the house is worth 80k, a 16k share may not be worth the lawyer fight, if it's worth 200k, it's worth the fight.)

Start with convo with the executor, then brothers to see "who is with you"
Keep us updated!

thebadguy

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #43 on: July 15, 2014, 09:59:08 AM »
All responses except one here indicate that I should push for resolution of this issue, even at the cost of family relationships.
This is the information I was looking for, as I questioned, is it just me or should we really be moving this issue to closure?
I don't quite understand the alarm from a legal standpoint that the estate has not been closed (I don't really know what that means), the house sold and the proceeds divided. (All of our names are on the title of this house.) Yes I think this should be done, but one of my brothers sees keeping the house in the family's possession as a long term investment for all of us. I don't agree, but what if I did? A lot of people inherit homes and hold onto them jointly, all names on the title. We have consulted lawyers a couple of times. First, just after my mother died and we told her lawyer my brother was going to live in the house for a year. Her lawyer said we should write up a lease and charge him rent, but he didn't stress the importance of selling the house immediately. Indeed, whoever you are, getting ourselves to this point with no real plan other than, we'll revisit this in a year, which was 5 years ago, was foolish. But here we are. My mother's lawyer is now deceased and in the same cemetery as my parents. Next we consulted a lawyer who knows about disability laws and how we should handle my disabled brother's inheritance so he didn't lose benefits. I won't go into what we did about the cash, but that lawyer said that when the house is sold, that brother's share should go into a trust and be distributed to him in very small sums and only in particular ways, such as buying him goods and services as opposed to giving him cash. Again, as far as I know that lawyer did not stress the critical nature of selling the house immediately and shutting down the estate. I do not place blame on my sister, the executrix at the time of my mother's death, for not pushing the issue harder.
She places family relationships at a premium, as I do, and thought we should continue to give my older brother a place to live until his health and finances improved. There was a time when I agreed with that approach - surely some of you have family whose well-being is more important to you than money - but that time has passed. One of you referred to us a door mats and in a sense you are right.
We saw ourselves more as compassionate siblings, helping because we could and because "he aint heavy he's our brother".  Again, I am getting the information I asked for, the vast majority of people would say that the time has long passed when compassion turned to inertia or, bringing it full circle, not wanting to be the bad guy. I am very close with most of my siblings, this was a tight knit family and I am extremely sorry to lose that. The majority of you feel we never should have let this situation get beyond, ok so Mom's dead, we're selling the house and dividing the money. Well we did. And I have felt for a while it was perhaps a mistake, but others don't necessarily feel this way. I will not win any family popularity contests when I blow the whistle. And to whomever said my mother was to blame for this by not being more clear in her will about the sale of the house, that is just brutal. In fact, my mother did try to change her will concerning the house before she died. She tried to take my older brother's name off everything in her will so it wouldn't get caught up in a potentially messy divorce proceeding; and she tried to take the disabled brother's name off, because she knew an inheritance could wreak havoc with his ssi. At the time, however, she learned there was a lien on the house because the disabled brother, cared for financially by the state, had not paid adequate child support to the state. Go figure. No wording could be changed while there was a lien on the house.  The lien has been taken care of. Anyway, she only tried to remove their names to protect them, and she trusted the rest of us to see that one way or another they got their one fifth. But she wan't as savvy as many of you, she didn't ever think six years after her death we would still have the house, and her lawyer never advised her to put wording of this type into her will. Isn't that why lawyers get paid the big bucks? I digress. You all may feel that I am not the cause of family discord if I speak out, as stated previously, I don't really care what the brother in the house thinks. But I will be seen as the author of the discord by another brother who has said if I do speak out and our brother is forced to pay up or leave, he is screwed, and that to him is unconscionable. I really do care about that. Can't help it 

tomsang

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #44 on: July 15, 2014, 10:05:07 AM »
The executor's role is to resolve the estate in a reasonable amount of time. Six years is not considered reasonable for a simple estate.  An executor also should be the one pushing these controversial issues forward and taking off some of the stress that can be caused by certain positions on family members.  They have the ability to be the "bad guy" and keep the family happy with each other.  Obviously this has not occurred and your family is being split up by this.

MooseOutFront

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #45 on: July 15, 2014, 10:11:13 AM »
My opinion still hinges on how much money we're talking about here.  You seem to no want to disclose that, which is odd.

tomsang

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #46 on: July 15, 2014, 10:15:32 AM »
If you are not willing to force him out of the house you should consider setting up rent.  If he is not able or willing to pay rent then the rent should come out of his share of the sale of the house.  Charge him 8%. Therefore his ownership percentage is dwindling as he stays there.  Have a forced sale of the house in xx numbers in the future.  That way he has the time to get out of the house, acknowledges that he is taking advantage of his siblings, and you are not subsidizing his life. 

Or

Just write-it off and acknowledge that you are not getting anything.  Let him move all his stuff in and treat it as his own house.   Get over this incident and focus on the family.

thebadguy

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #47 on: July 15, 2014, 10:26:18 AM »
The house is worth around 300K I think, but I have not seen the most current appraisal - so that's 60K vs. a continued decent relationship with 1- 4 family members

Cpa Cat

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #48 on: July 15, 2014, 10:34:59 AM »
The house is worth around 300K I think, but I have not seen the most current appraisal - so that's 60K vs. a continued decent relationship with 1- 4 family members

If my siblings all got together and said to me: "Pay us $60,000 or we won't talk to you anymore," I would tell them to go F themselves.

Fishingmn

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #49 on: July 15, 2014, 10:42:45 AM »
Personally, I'd talk to a lawyer to see what your options are. I think you need to know your options before going any further and hiring a lawyer to get more information doesn't cause any problems yet.

Either that or keep quiet for now.