Author Topic: On inheritance and keeping family peace  (Read 129907 times)

MooseOutFront

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #50 on: July 15, 2014, 10:45:29 AM »
So, what should have been done in the estate planning phase to prevent this situation?  I know one poster mentioned this, but can a will require that a property be sold before distributing assets of the estate?

swick

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #51 on: July 15, 2014, 10:47:36 AM »
I have been reading this thread with interest as my mom is going to be going through the same situation within the next couple of years - 6 kids, one of them living in my grandmother's house.

One thing that their lawyer brought up was that if it is not resolved, and one of your siblings dies, then their portion of the property becomes part of their estate (if there are lots of kids, spouses and exe's involved this could be a potentially huge headache)  Aalthough this is in Canada, I don't know if it would be the same in the US.

RetiredAt63

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #52 on: July 15, 2014, 11:17:19 AM »
This has been interesting and educational.  And a rough situation for the OP

OP, I am missing a sibling - there is your oldest sister, the executrix, the oldest brother who is in the house, the disabled brother, and you, the youngest sister.  Who is the 5th person and what is their situation?  I thought you had mentioned this person but can't find the reference.

I can see two issues here - first is the value of the house, which could well be of major importance to the disabled brother, and the missing 5th sibling.  Second is the question of whether the money the brother in the house is spending on the house is equivalent to rent he would be paying elsewhere.

So - re the rent/costs issue - I would get a rental management company to estimate what the house would rent for (this does not include utilities, renters pay, not an issue in terms of what your brother is contributing).  Then see if your brother's contributions are anywhere close to that value.  That also gives a basis for any financial discussion.  Also, since you all have your names on the house deed, you should all have a say in what is done with the house re repairs/improvements.  Some are necessary to keep the value of the house (i.e. roof) and some are only for the enjoyment of the occupants (i.e. change inside paint colour).
This is something that should be settled if your brother is gong to continue to stay in the house.  Retroactive would be nice for the siblings that need money most.

Re the future of the house - it sounds to me as if having all your names on the house means that the estate has been settled, and that is the settlement.  You really need to see a lawyer, one who handles real estate transactions, to see if that is the case.  If so, the brother should really be paying rent to the other 4, since that is their financial return on their ownership.  If not, you are back to settling the estate somehow.

Last thought - you are not the "bad guy" - so don't present yourself that way.  Present yourself as looking after the interests of everyone and especially the disabled brother.  He should be seeing some financial benefits from this, and he needs them. 

I am going through something similar - a mediated financial settlement in prep for divorce, when husband has been in the matrimonial home for 5 years while I have paid half the costs - he is finally paying occupational rent but it was a struggle.  Having a mediator to keep us on track and advise on legal questions has made all the difference - you may well need a mediator when the family finally agrees to discuss this.

CommonCents

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #53 on: July 15, 2014, 11:22:02 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

You don't, and won't, likely be able to have a decent relationship with the squatter.  If your goal is the inheritance+decent relationship with the others, that can be doable.

1. Hire an attorney, get the advice from them.  Agree with Daleth.

2. Approach each sibling (individually or not) and say "Look, I don't money to ruin our relationships, but I'm worried it already has.  We should have resolved this 6 years ago, but it's not too late.  I want to disentangle this mess now before it gets any worse."  And be honest, "I am afraid to say something to you, which is wrong, because I didn't want you stop talking to me.  We need to look after disabled brother in particular, and this situation doesn't.  Mom didn't want this.  Will you help me honor her wishes?"

ETA: Retiredat63, the missing sibling is the brother that lives on a fixed income and supports oldest brother in staying in the house (lending/giving him money etc.)

DoubleDown

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #54 on: July 15, 2014, 11:31:09 AM »
Ah, the perils of leaving real property to multiple inheritors...

To the person who asked: Yes, this situation could have been avoided with proper instructions in an estate plan. Leaving a house to multiple people is pretty much a guarantee for creating difficulty and seriously strained family relationships. Houses can't just be cut into multiple parts.

Anyhow, OP, if you want your share of the house then the only way is to hire legal representation and bring a partition lawsuit to force the sale of the home. Your brother has made it clear he has no intention of leaving, probably ever. Only you can decide if it's worth it to you and your family relationships to bring a lawsuit to force the sale or division of the property. You have every right to be annoyed at your brother taking advantage of the rest of you, but only you can decide if it's worth fighting over.

RetiredAt63

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #55 on: July 15, 2014, 11:40:04 AM »
+1 on all this.

CC, thanks - since this brother is on a fixed income, he is not looking after his own interests by supporting the squatter.

You don't, and won't, likely be able to have a decent relationship with the squatter.  If your goal is the inheritance+decent relationship with the others, that can be doable.

1. Hire an attorney, get the advice from them.  Agree with Daleth.

2. Approach each sibling (individually or not) and say "Look, I don't money to ruin our relationships, but I'm worried it already has.  We should have resolved this 6 years ago, but it's not too late.  I want to disentangle this mess now before it gets any worse."  And be honest, "I am afraid to say something to you, which is wrong, because I didn't want you stop talking to me.  We need to look after disabled brother in particular, and this situation doesn't.  Mom didn't want this.  Will you help me honor her wishes?"

ETA: Retiredat63, the missing sibling is the brother that lives on a fixed income and supports oldest brother in staying in the house (lending/giving him money etc.)

NoraLenderbee

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #56 on: July 15, 2014, 11:46:52 AM »
My sympathy to the OP. This is a very difficult situation.

One thing jumped out at me:

Quote
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.

You've said that family relationships are very important to you and your siblings--in fact, they are (or have been) the priority. But your oldest brother obviously doesn't feel the same way. He would rather screw the rest of you than play fair or help your disabled brother. When you feel like the bad guy, think about this. *You* are not wrecking family relationships; *he* is. You are just standing up for the rest of the family.

And calling your brother a freeloader, when he himself is the one living off your shared inheritance??

ch12

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #57 on: July 15, 2014, 11:50:23 AM »
My sympathy to the OP. This is a very difficult situation.

One thing jumped out at me:

Quote
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.

You've said that family relationships are very important to you and your siblings--in fact, they are (or have been) the priority. But your oldest brother obviously doesn't feel the same way. He would rather screw the rest of you than play fair or help your disabled brother. When you feel like the bad guy, think about this. *You* are not wrecking family relationships; *he* is. You are just standing up for the rest of the family.

And calling your brother a freeloader, when he himself is the one living off your shared inheritance??

+1

Call him on it. Get a lawyer and make it right. You are not the bad guy. You're the guy who wants to see your fair inheritance. If you can't do it for you, do it for your disabled brother.

former player

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #58 on: July 15, 2014, 12:36:38 PM »
You say that the house is currently in the names of all 5 siblings.  That suggests to me that in fact the estate may well have been fully wound up and finalised, and that in settling the estate the choice was made not to sell the house and distribute the proceedings but to convey the house into joint names.  If that is right, this is no longer a matter of dealing with the estate, as it has been fully dealt with (ie the house is not in the name of either your parents or the executrix), and your sister as executrix is no longer responsible as such.  Instead, it is the different matter of the 5 of you each owning a share (worth about $60,000 for each of you) of the house.

Any one of the five of you should be able to go to court and get an order for the house to be sold: the general rule with jointly owned property is that any one of the owners can force a sale.  (I bought my current house from 3 siblings who inherited it from their parents and used it as a holiday home: only one sibling wanted to sell but because a sale could be forced through the other two went along with the sale.)  So if you want to force the issue, I would suggest you get a lawyer to write a letter on your behalf to the occupying brother, stating that you want a sale, that you are prepared to force the sale through the courts, but that the costs of doing so would be taken off the sale price and you hope he will agree to a sale (which could include a sale to him at an agreed market price which takes into account his 20% interest).

You say that you are planning for retirement and could use the $60,000 to finance your retirement.  That seems to me to be a very good reason for wanting to liquidate a substantial financial asset which is not producing any return for you.  I would have thought that it would be difficult for any of your siblings to argue that you should have to carry on working so that your brother can carry on living rent free.  If you put the argument like this, it should be difficult for any of them to see you as "the bad guy".

If you do sell, you need to set up a discretionary trust for your disabled brother (your executrix sister might be a good trustee, along with you or your other brother) so that his share of the proceeds does not disrupt his benefits.  This could be a relatively short and simple document, but does need to be drawn up by a lawyer with knowledge of this legal area.

Given the previous behaviour of your brother who is occupying the property, I would be very wary of offering him a lease.  The chances of him paying the rent on time, or dealing fairly with maintenance expenses, do not seem to be good enough for this to resolve the problem.

DoubleDown

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #59 on: July 15, 2014, 12:42:29 PM »
So, what should have been done in the estate planning phase to prevent this situation?  I know one poster mentioned this, but can a will require that a property be sold before distributing assets of the estate?

It's pretty much never a good idea to leave real property to more than one person. This case study is a textbook example of what goes wrong. It's also an exceptionally bad idea to leave real property to children since they aren't legally able to receive it. To the extent possible, it should be left to one person with a penchant for handling it or disposing of it (for example, someone experienced in real estate) who can make unemotional decisions, then match the value for other inheritors. For example, leave the house with $100,000 in equity to one sibling who is competent at handling real estate, and $100,000 in other assets to the other sibling.

If that's not possible, then leave specific instructions about how the property is to be disposed. As a greatly simplified example, "The property will be held for one year, allowing Fred to live in it free of charge. After one year, Fred must vacate the property, and it will be sold and the proceeds divided equally among the surviving siblings or their issue" (in real life, that would be several pages of legal language and contingencies). But even doing this kind of thing can raise potential difficulties, so it's usually better just to leave it to one person, or dispose of it immediately.

okashira

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #60 on: July 15, 2014, 01:12:50 PM »
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.

This is brilliant.

thebadguy

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #61 on: July 15, 2014, 01:28:49 PM »
So actually there is my sister, the oldest, very well off, several homes, owns business w/ husband but she doesn't work, country clubber. She was the executrix when my parents died, she is sort of the point person on matters of the estate. She would like closure but is afraid to push too hard for reasons stated previously about health and financial issues of the brother in the house.
Second is the retired brother on a fixed income or pension. He is 110% loyal to the brother living in the house, they are as close as two sibs could be and he would move the earth for this guy. He's an all around generous and great guy. He has given his own money to the brother in the house to pay taxes, etc., while he struggles to find money to move forward with some important things in his own life. Pretty amazing.
Third is the brother in the house, former high school super star, great looking, most college degrees, very good job but deep in debt paying off kids' college loans and paying a mortgage on his own home across town that his estranged wife lives in, whom he doesn't divorce b/c it would cost him more than just staying married and paying for her to live in their house, lives w/ girlfriend and her adult son in the house in question.
Fourth is the disabled brother - social, emotional, insomniac, depressive, recovered addict, challenges w/ processing information, gifted musician. Our family has been to hell and back with this sweet but completely messed up man, institutionalized at least 4 times, finally got him set up in a subsidized apartment, on some benefits, off substances, as stable as he can be - he lives from month to month stretching pennies to the next check in the mail. This is the brother who is not trusted by the brother in the house, thinks he is just lazy and dishonest and could be doing more to help himself. My oldest brother has consulted a lawyer on setting up a trust for him, in the event the house ever sells, and has agreed to be the trustee. He already handles other money matters for this brother. It is a priority for all except the middle brother to see that this bro is taken care of.
Fifth is me, 10 years younger than the first and 5 years younger than the fourth, female, no kids, not married but in 25+ yr. relationship with man - we're DINKS ha ha -  who thinks I am being raked over the coals on this house thing. I am financially secure, good savings, no debt, own my home, will retire within 5 years from a good job I've had 25 yrs, will have good pension. A 60K inheritance equals a year's salary minus benefits for me. As you can see, all very different, but we all adored our mother and managed to get along well enough despite our differences when she was living. Superficially we still get along, we have our own lives, we stay out of each other's faces and obviously don't call each other out on stuff - but resentment over this house has come to a tipping point for me...sister too, maybe disabled brother too...we just don't talk about it. I've gotten fired up about it before and then not done anything about it. This time the trigger was when he said to my sibs and me, "Listen, I don't want to talk about the house but, I had to put a new roof on the garage, I have torn the wall paper from the kitchen walls and am working on that room and then I will fix water damage from previously leaky roof in dining room. Just giving you a heads up because I can't guarantee the dining room set will be safe if left in there during renovation so you might want to think about what you want to do with it." Then he left.

CommonCents

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #62 on: July 15, 2014, 01:33:59 PM »
So, what should have been done in the estate planning phase to prevent this situation?  I know one poster mentioned this, but can a will require that a property be sold before distributing assets of the estate?

It's pretty much never a good idea to leave real property to more than one person. This case study is a textbook example of what goes wrong. It's also an exceptionally bad idea to leave real property to children since they aren't legally able to receive it. To the extent possible, it should be left to one person with a penchant for handling it or disposing of it (for example, someone experienced in real estate) who can make unemotional decisions, then match the value for other inheritors. For example, leave the house with $100,000 in equity to one sibling who is competent at handling real estate, and $100,000 in other assets to the other sibling.

Except that this has lots of issues too.  Most people don't update their will at all, much less regularly.  (For example, my parents updated theirs after 25 years - and apparently this was still better than most.)  This assumes either the equity and other assets are fairly even, which it is not likely to be.  Regretably, people are apt to get frustrated and create bad will over even a small discrepancy between siblings.  My Trust & Estates professor used to read out loud Dear Abby/Ann Launders columns to illustrate that these issues can and do happen in real life.  (One I recall was a child with one kid unhappy the sibling with 4 kids received the same $200 at birthdays for each kid, thus diminishing her inheritance.  Her kid got $200/year compared to the cousins getting $800/year.)

okashira

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #63 on: July 15, 2014, 01:35:28 PM »
okashira,

You need a face punch. You've been too soft in your use of the English language. I don't think you mean to have "to soft" in your signature.

Best!
neo :-)
I deserve a concussion for that one. Thanks!

eil

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #64 on: July 15, 2014, 01:40:55 PM »
It sounds like your brother is trying for adverse possession of the house. What a messy situation.

So, your options as I see them:

1) Press to have the house sold, or to have them buy you out. The spirit (if not letter) of the inheritance was that each sibling get a fair share of the estate and as long as your brother has possession of the house, that is not being honored. You are totally within your rights to ask for your share in one way or the other. Especially when one or more parties are being completely unreasonable about this whole thing. Keep it simple, speak only for yourself, don't try to get anyone else on your side. Let the other siblings worry (or not, as they choose) about their full share of the estate.

2) Voluntarily relinquish your interest in the house. You lose whatever your share of the value of the house is, but also cannot be broadsided by any liabilities that might arise. Consider it analogous to forgiving a loan that you know will never be paid back without pouring salt on an already-open wound. Your siblings may balk, but not as much as you think since it will effectively increase their share. This is the option to take if you just want to wash your hands of it and keep the family peace. If you live frugally, it does not harm your financial independence to lose $60k (or whatever it is) that you didn't have in your long-range plans anyway. Mr. Money Mustache calls this "the position of strength".

What you should not do is sit on this any further. Although I am on good terms with all of my family, I could not sleep at night knowing my financial interests are so firmly entangled with theirs.

ch12

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #65 on: July 15, 2014, 01:47:44 PM »
Third is the brother in the house, former high school super star, great looking, most college degrees, very good job but deep in debt paying off kids' college loans and paying a mortgage on his own home across town that his estranged wife lives in, whom he doesn't divorce b/c it would cost him more than just staying married and paying for her to live in their house, lives w/ girlfriend and her adult son in the house in question.

My oldest brother has consulted a lawyer on setting up a trust for him, in the event the house ever sells, and has agreed to be the trustee. He already handles other money matters for this brother. It is a priority for all except the middle brother to see that this bro is taken care of.

but resentment over this house has come to a tipping point for me...sister too, maybe disabled brother too...we just don't talk about it. I've gotten fired up about it before and then not done anything about it. This time the trigger was when he said to my sibs and me, "Listen, I don't want to talk about the house but, I had to put a new roof on the garage, I have torn the wall paper from the kitchen walls and am working on that room and then I will fix water damage from previously leaky roof in dining room. Just giving you a heads up because I can't guarantee the dining room set will be safe if left in there during renovation so you might want to think about what you want to do with it." Then he left.

Rally around taking care of your brother. Even the retired one who is really close to the one living in the house agrees that the disabled brother has to have something.

Your tenant brother needs to divorce his wife. It doesn't actually cost him "less" to live in the family home and keep paying her mortgage. It costs the family as a whole more.

CommonCents

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #66 on: July 15, 2014, 01:48:44 PM »
So really, it sounds like you are concerned about losing the relationship with Bro 2 over Bro 3.  Sis 1 seems to be on your side but afraid to rock the boat, Bro 4 seems to be caught and unable to handle any of this.

Perhaps reach out to Bro 2.  You did, after all, say that he too wants to look out for Bro 4.  Maybe have a meeting, not directly about the house, but about Bro 4.  Point out that Bro 4 feels unwelcome in a house he co-owns (regardless of whether he actually is unwelcome).  Point out Bro 4 could use the trust fund set up now, not later.  Suggest setting up the trust fund with Bro 2 as executor.  And of course, the obvious thing is that the trust is funded by the sale of the house, or his 1/5 share of the rent.  (Maybe even look up the cost of rent he's missed out on over the past 5 years as saying your group generosity has been at the expense of the sibling that can least afford it and ought to be the most protected, and all four you have a moral responsibility to look after him.)

Honestly sounds like Bro 3 would be better off getting a divorce.  This way just drags the cost out and possible settlement.  (She can run up bills, in my state the maximum possible available alimony increases with length of marriage at 5, 10, 20 years.)  That's a big issue.  But, if he's got a gf living with him now, she may nag him about this.

One final option no one has suggested: Tell your siblings you intend to sign your right to the house over to Bro 4, and do so.  Perhaps get power of attorney to act on his behalf then in forcing a sale.  This way, you help him get money without benefiting yourself so Bro 2 can't really get so mad at you (not that this would prevent him, just makes it a harder ground).

Don't forget, you're not just losing out on $60k yourself, but the rent money or money that you could have gained if you had invested it (perhaps another $15k).

lackofstache

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #67 on: July 15, 2014, 01:54:01 PM »
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.

+1. If it's worth that much, he's literally stealing $60K from EACH of his siblings. That's, if my math is right, $240K. That's a lotta coin that he's keeping from his siblings by not moving or paying rent.

tomsang

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #68 on: July 15, 2014, 02:28:29 PM »
Or you could rent out 20% of the house to some stranger:). Tell your brother that you are going to start showing the house next weekend.

Sounds like a frustrating situation. Good luck. As others mentioned he may be claiming imminent domain over the house.  Letting him live there rent free could cause all of the other family members to lose their claim over the property. Save your correspondence that shows that you tried to get him out and/or charge rent.

Spend the money on an attorney.

mooreprop

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #69 on: July 15, 2014, 02:33:49 PM »
I really feel bad for your family.  It is hard to make rational decisions when emotions come into play.  However, I think you can make the right decision (to force the sale of the house) despite the bad feelings if you change your way of thinking about this. 

As others have stated, you have a brother who is taking advantage of the situation.  You are reluctant to "screw him over" by forcing him to take full responsibility for his own living expenses.  My sister-in-law did the same thing with her adult sons.  She let them live rent free and as a result they continued to make bad relationship decisions, went into debt, and had legal convictions.  The remarkable thing was that when she lost everything in a divorce and foreclosure and was no longer able to help her sons, they became upstanding young men.  They took responsibility for their own finances, paid their own bills, provided their own place to live and (gasp!) were happier people overall.  It removes a person's self-esteem to live at the expense of others when he is capable of providing for himself. 

It is my humble opinion, that you would be helping several family members by forcing the sale of the house and would also be helping (over the long haul) the brother who is freeloading.  That doesn't mean that it will be easy or that he will take it well at first.  (Hint:  Do not tell him you are doing it for his own good!)

Probably if you just tell all family members that you need the money to pay your own bills in retirement, that would be the best strategy.  Your brother may also need the money to pay for his girlfriend's medical bills?


CommonCents

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #70 on: July 15, 2014, 02:37:02 PM »
So, what should have been done in the estate planning phase to prevent this situation?  I know one poster mentioned this, but can a will require that a property be sold before distributing assets of the estate?
This isn't an estate planning problem.   The problem is that 5 siblings became co-owners and landlords together with no exit plan for the partnership.   Millions of others leave estates to multiple heirs and those estates are settled by turning the asset into cash and distributing the proceeds.   They agreed to own and each likely imagined some distribution in the future,  but they had no plan and no contract and six years go by and they still don't.   All the details about country clubbing sister, disabled brother and squatters are only relevant in the question of why did OP decide to go into business with them as co-owner/landlord in an investment property with no lease for the tenant and letting the tenant pay below market rent.

What (s)he said

Frankies Girl

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #71 on: July 15, 2014, 02:48:42 PM »
I totally would get a lawyer to see about putting the house up for sale/auction. Even if it's just you, you can force a sale. You could even contact the other siblings to see if they are interested, and then send a letter (or ask for a meeting) with everyone and just tell the group that you (and whichever siblings that are with you) feel the time has come to sell the house, and that either brother that lives there buys you all out at an agreed upon price, or you're going to get it put up for sale/auction. I'd wait and have the meeting after talking to the lawyer to get your facts straight (especially about whether you have to formally evict the squatter bro), but if you want out of this mess, you will probably have to take these steps yourself.

I can't even imagine how the taxes work on on owning a piece of property that you haven't been able to sell or get any proceeds from... who checks that the property taxes and insurance are being paid and that the house is being properly maintained? What is your liability if someone gets hurt or decides to sue ALL the owners? Are you all expected to pay for repairs or is the bro living there at least handling that part? This is too messed up and I would have insisted getting out of that ASAP.

I honestly would not give a crap about what squatter bro or any of them think at this point. As I think I already said, they don't give a crap about you and are intentionally and even laughingly taking advantage of all of you... it just depends on whether you think having a superficial/exploitative relationship where you are at the disadvantage is better than no relationship and being free from this entanglement (and of course, getting the money you were meant to have).


johnhenry

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #72 on: July 15, 2014, 03:02:00 PM »
I have been reading this thread with interest as my mom is going to be going through the same situation within the next couple of years - 6 kids, one of them living in my grandmother's house.

One thing that their lawyer brought up was that if it is not resolved, and one of your siblings dies, then their portion of the property becomes part of their estate (if there are lots of kids, spouses and exe's involved this could be a potentially huge headache)  Aalthough this is in Canada, I don't know if it would be the same in the US.

There has been plenty of great advice on this thread.  And this brings up another point in favor of getting this settle ASAP.  If something happens to one of your siblings who has heirs.... you will have some new co-owners of this property.

This is a justifiably emotional situation to be in.  But you've had plenty of time to analyze it rationally.  You should start moving forward with the process of requesting that the estate be settled.  And if it already has, moving forward with getting yourself out of joint ownership.  Which may mean forcing a sale or at least forcing your siblings into buying you out if they want to retain ownership.  At this point, I'd continue to speak to my siblings in rational, matter-of-fact terms about bringing closure to the situation.  No need to judge motives or character flaws of other siblings or talk in terms like that. You may be surprised.  Maybe after the deal is over, some healing and relationship re-building can start among your family.

Of course it's water under the bridge, and others have pointed this out.  It would have made more sense for the mother to name an outside party as the executor.  One who did understand and take seriously their fiduciary duty to the heirs.  It's easy and common to include language that says, in effect:  "if, within one year, all siblings are in agreement that one or more siblings should buy the home from the remaining siblings, allow that to happen.  Otherwise, the house should be auctioned and proceeds split evenly."  It's also common to pay the (third-party) executor for their trouble of paying all the utilities, taxes, and generally settling the estate.

There's still potential for hard feelings and disputes in that situation, but the benefit is that it forces the siblings to resolve quickly and move on.


Villanelle

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #73 on: July 15, 2014, 03:07:27 PM »
If one brother thinks that keeping the house in the family is important, he is welcome to buy out your share.  I'd even offer it to him and a bit below fair market value, because he's family and because it would save you the trouble of selling, as well as the expense of realtor fees. 

If you are okay renting to deadbeat brother, that's another option.  However, it's not one I'd consider for even a second.  Given what he's shown of his character and willingness to take advantage, I wouldn't trust him.  And if you aren't comfortable telling him it's time to stop freeloading and move out, you really aren't going to be willing to take him to court when he stops paying rent, or skips a month, or is short this month because [insert latest tragedy here].  So while renting might be an option with a responsible and thoughtful sibling, your brother is neither so I'd not be willing to do that.  If the other siblings are, again, they can buy you out. 

johnhenry

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #74 on: July 15, 2014, 03:25:07 PM »
So, what should have been done in the estate planning phase to prevent this situation?  I know one poster mentioned this, but can a will require that a property be sold before distributing assets of the estate?
This isn't an estate planning problem.   The problem is that 5 siblings became co-owners and landlords together with no exit plan for the partnership.   Millions of others leave estates to multiple heirs and those estates are settled by turning the asset into cash and distributing the proceeds.   They agreed to own and each likely imagined some distribution in the future,  but they had no plan and no contract and six years go by and they still don't.   All the details about country clubbing sister, disabled brother and squatters are only relevant in the question of why did OP decide to go into business with them as co-owner/landlord in an investment property with no lease for the tenant and letting the tenant pay below market rent.

This may be taking the thread off-topic, but I think this problem exists specifically because of poor estate planning, complicated by poor estate execution.  If you lay blame at the feet of the OP for "becoming co-owners and landlords...with no exit plan", do you do the same for the disabled sibling who is also 1/5 owner?  It is any estate planning problem because one or more of those 5 siblings MAY HAVE (or potentially could have) been in this same situation without taking any action, or making any statements.  There is a disabled man who now owns 1/5 of a home, is a landlord of his brother, etc.  Regardless of whether he verbally agreed to "let his brother live there", this is not something he got himself into.


 

Bobberth

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #75 on: July 15, 2014, 04:01:44 PM »
You state that the brother pays taxes and insurance.  If the house has gone through probate already, I am assume there is no mortgage on the house since there is no mention of payments?  What about getting a HELOC or a cash out refinance on the property to pay you out?  You don't have to sell, he can still live there and you can get paid out.  Seems like it's win-win except your brother now has to make a house payment.  If all 4 want their money, that is 80% LTV and he would still be able to live there.  If the other brother that lives there is buddy-buddy, he can keep his 20% in the house and it's only 60% LTV.  You can even knock some $ off the total for 80% of the taxes and insurance he has paid to date to get him a better LTV or monthly payment. 

If nobody else wants to confront the brother, go in and demand your 20% and suggest a HELOC.  If all 5 are actually on the title (very stupid btw but it is what it is), you will need some documents worked up to take you off the title.  If you push this strategy, let your siblings know they should want to be cashed out as it would be even dumber to be on the title with multiple people AND a lien they would now be responsible for.  There is a big difference in letting the brother live for free and having to dole out cash for him to live there.

Bring this solution up as it truly is a win for everybody-brother gets to stay living there and everybody gets paid out.  When the asshole brother objects you then you ask if he would prefer to sell the house.  You can point out that all future appreciation would belong to him instead of splitting it.  If he's still belligerent, you can very calmly point out that he's not looking for a solution, he's looking for everybody else to subsidize his lifestyle. 

higgins2013

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #76 on: July 15, 2014, 05:52:57 PM »
The "family peace" is already ruptured.  Your brother has managed to bully his siblings into providing him a nice house for mere utility and RE tax costs (if even that), certainly well below market-rate rent.  That's a great savings plan for HIM, but burdensome to his siblings.  You're all subsidizing him.  It's not bothering him at all, and your brother's attitude towards your disabled brother is inexcusable too.  Nice guy.

If all of your names are on the deed, post-probate, then all siblings must consent to sale, as I recall, for sale to close.  Even though your brother has 100% occupancy-use, all of you still retain legal liability, so if GF breaks her hip in house, she can sue all of you.  Your brother and his girlfriend (and her son) have probably established some "residency rights" (not ownership) which need to be addressed by an attorney too.  Simple answer: go consult a real estate attorney, pronto.  No qualified estate planning attorney would recommend a multiple-sibling inheritance structure for real estate property, for this specific post-probate situation.  House needs to be sold and proceeds distributed.  Your brother needs to find a rental home that fits his and GF's budget, house cleaned-up and staged for "as-is estate sale" real estate listing.  If rich brother wants to subsidize his tenant-brother, then he can buy house for him.  Your sister, your disabled brother, and you have been manipulated into allowing this situation continue.  Yes, you need to speak up.  Let the dominos fall. 

higgins2013

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #77 on: July 15, 2014, 06:05:01 PM »
Read OP's further description of her brother.  Sounds like a narcissist, self-absorbed and self-entitled, lack of empathy for others.  Yes of course "divorce would cost him more", because he's got a near-free house residency with 20% ownership, while retaining 50% ownership of a second home maintained by his wife.  Sounds mustachian. 

northeast

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #78 on: January 31, 2017, 03:43:18 PM »
I find this very interesting since my family is going through something very similar.  Are there any updates?

Pigeon

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #79 on: January 31, 2017, 06:21:25 PM »
I would see a lawyer ASAP and see what can be done about making him move out and selling the house.  The idea of  keeping it as an investment between all of you is ridiculous and unworkable at this point.  It needs to be sold.  He has already damaged the relationship and he has no intention of doing the right thing.


Iplawyer

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #80 on: February 01, 2017, 05:57:23 AM »
You have the right to be bought out legally.  If the 4 siblings don't want to buy you out - you can force a sale.  At this point - you need to do that.  You said you have a sibling living on disability in a tiny apartment - wouldn't the money matter to them?  In any case - you'll need a lawyer. The estate  needs a lawyer too.  If you don't do anything now - it will never change.  And you don't need the rest of the siblings to get it done.

That being said - have you asked the apparently "rich" sibling to just buy everybody out except the deadbeat?

Spiffsome

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #81 on: February 01, 2017, 03:45:42 PM »
Comedy option: Since your name is on the title, move in! 20% of the house ought to equate to a room of your own. Walk around the house naked, get a large slobbery dog, eat stinky food, run loud music at all hours, make yourself at home.

Frankies Girl

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #82 on: February 01, 2017, 04:03:43 PM »
THIS POST IS FROM 2014, FOLKS.

Someone bumped it as they are in similar situation, but the OP has not returned to the forum in over 2 years, so likely we'll never know how this turned out.


MagicCarpet

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #83 on: December 12, 2017, 03:18:35 PM »
I realize the OP was a long time ago and this topic has sort of died out, but I wanted to bump it up because it sounds like a lot of people are going through similar.  I'm curious to see if others have been in or known of similar situations and have followed through one way or the other, either deciding to let it go or pursuing legal means.

My brother and I are going through similar now with a sister who has been living in the family house for 20+ years.  She's been living there since 1986.  My dad died in 2009.  She is still there.  Never has paid rent other than enough to cover taxes and insurance.

This all blew up between the siblings three years ago.  I had bought my own house and it needed a ton of repairs.  I sunk $50K into it, on top of paying a $1500 mortgage, on top of paying utilities.  I told my sis I was sinking fast and needed something to be done since she was living in the family house.  I suggested so many other options -- sell both our houses, give my brother his cut, and then she and I could buy one nice house together, or each buy our own house, or she could come move in my place and pay some rent and rent out the family house, or take out a HELOC and give me and my brother some funds.  But she rejected all of those and just wanted to stay put and continue to leech off the family home, rent-free, other than paying utilities and taxes.

My brother and I went to an attorney but I didn't have the heart to go ahead with anything.  Boy how I wish I had.  We all stopped talking to each other. I finally reached out to my sis about a year later because I missed my family.  So we made up.  I swallowed my thoughts at how ridiculously unfair this was because that was the position she put me in -- shut up or lose the family. I ended up having to rent out my own house and move back into the spare apartment in the family home, which her daughter had also been living in rent-free.

I would absolutely help anybody through any hardship.  But when a "hardship" turns into a 20-year marathon, it's not a hardship anymore it's just you being irresponsible and making a mess of your life, which trickles down to everyone. Her and her family have blown through thousands in drugs and dealing with my derelict niece's attorneys' fees and court costs from being a klepto almost since birth.  On top of which she's stolen from every other family member to the point where we've had to lock our own doors against her.  And she also got in so many accidents that her insurance is over $7K a year. I also only have three small rooms and she's got two upper floors and has had as many as five people living up there.  But we split everything 50/50 even though they're using 3x the water, electric, etc. And then they have the nerve to bitch at me because I use my extra money for travel. I've even paid to take them on trips with my air miles!

Now it's blown up again and my sister blocked me again.  My brother said he's in hardship and asked for money.  I told my sis again we should all sit down.  NOPE.  That's her way of dealing with things, ignore them and just assume they'll go away.  Well they don't.  They fester until the next time they blow up.

My brother and I went to an attorney again.  I feel sick about this but I've asked her three times sit down and figure out something that's fair to all of us.  I hope I have the guts to follow through this time. I don't want my sis to lose this house if she wants it, even though it's way more space then she needs, four floors of problems and things falling apart. The worst thing is that my grand nephew lives here.  I love him so much but I'm so sick of carrying the rest of the family's problems.  And we've carried three generations already.  ENOUGH.  It's her attitude that pisses me off more than anything.  She's an entitled shit.

What to do?  Help, please...!!

mozar

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #84 on: December 12, 2017, 03:45:10 PM »
You need to move out and never speak to any of these people again. If you have money for travel you can afford to travel. The house will probably be foreclosed on. That's Ok.

MagicCarpet

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #85 on: December 12, 2017, 04:57:43 PM »
Thanks for the reply.  I agree I need to never talk to them again.  But I just don't see how foreclosure is okay. That's mine and my brother's inheritance, my parents left it for all three of us.  The house is worth half a million so we'd be losing at least 150K each.  I'm okay now but I'm getting older.  What about down the road if something comes up with health or I lose my job? 

ixtap

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #86 on: December 12, 2017, 05:05:25 PM »
Have you looked into your state's squatter laws?

former player

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #87 on: December 12, 2017, 05:09:05 PM »
You already know what you need to do: get a good lawyer, take their advice and follow through. 

Your relationship with your sister has been damaged by her actions, which have been consistently selfish and shitty for the last 20 years.  Your relationship with your brother was damaged by your own failure to impose the necessary boundaries on your sister's behaviour all those years ago.

I suspect that the result of court action will be an order for the house to be sold and the proceeds divided.  Because you have been complicit all these years in your sister's behaviour I think it is highly unlikely that you will receive compensation for the lost rent or for the dilapidations, but that it will be an even split of the net proceeds between the three of you.

Once you get the money, put your own lifejacket on first.  That means investing it safely in index funds and not giving any of it away to anyone in your family, and not giving any indication that you will ever support any of them in any way. 

I would also strongly advise finding yourself somewhere to live that is too small for any of your leach-like family to move in with you.

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #88 on: December 12, 2017, 05:18:10 PM »
Following.

MagicCarpet

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #89 on: December 12, 2017, 06:31:10 PM »
I saw a lawyer again and my brother and I are planning on having a letter sent to her after the holidays.  I hope I have the guts to follow through this time. On one hand I feel like a sucker/doormat, but on the other I feel awful because my little nephew lives here.  And I don't want them to lose their home.  My sis has no credit but my attorney thinks she could still possibly qualify for a HELOC because of the equity in the home and also the rental income from the 2nd apartment?

Former player you are very right about all you've said. And as you mentioned the attorney said we could go after her for 20 years worth of difference between what she has been paying ($300-600/mo) compared to what we could have been getting for FMV rent for the place over that time ($1000+ a month).  And my lovely niece stole my dead parents' wedding rings from my sister and pawned them.  The attorney said we could go after that too.  Translation, we could royally screw her if we wanted to.  We don't want that at all.  We just want our fair share and to be done with this already.  I'm tired of supporting generation after generation.  I'd even be willing to take a hell of a lot less than a third just to have this over with and have my name off the deed because right now we're exposed to liability and unpaid bills also.  But she won't see it that way, she'll see us as the greedy aunt and uncle who are kicking them out of their home.  It doesn't matter that we've been carrying huge mortgages over our heads all these years.

Honestly my sis has helped me through some hard times (emotionally).  She's wonderful when we agree on things or when it's a neutral issue.  But when it's something she disagrees with, it's block, ignore, or yell in my face and bully me.  I think her problem is that she's too nice sometimes and takes on everyone else's problems, which then become our problems.  And she did go through a ton of money on drugs herself, during which time I had to take her to the doc for treatment every other day and take care of her kids in the meantime.  I was always the nice and helpful auntie/sister but I'm so TIRED now of cleaning up everyone else's messes.

I really appreciate the replies and advice.  This is just so hard.

SwordGuy

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #90 on: December 12, 2017, 07:38:36 PM »

I have a couple of observations:

1) Adverse possession only applies if the other person uses the property without your permission.   You've given him permission to stay.   Put in in writing and date it, but that covers you from that.

2) You've already lost your relationship with the brother that is stealing from you all. You all have.  You just haven't admitted it to yourselves yet. 

NoraLenderbee

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #91 on: December 13, 2017, 04:58:25 PM »
MagicCarpet, you have a stark choice:
  • Do what it takes to get out from under "supporting generation after generation" (lawyer, etc.), even though it will upset your sister a lot.
  • Have everything go on exactly as it has been for 20 years.

There is not a third option where your sister says, "You're right, this is really unfair. I will stop taking advantage of you immediately, stand on my own two feet, and we will all be friends." I'm sorry, I wish there were. You are looking for the magic words that will accomplish this third option. There are none.

There is a saying: "Don't set yourself on fire to keep another person warm." That's what you (and bro) have been doing for 20 years. It is HARD to extricate yourself from this kind of situation--but it is possible.

You might want to start reading:
books about boundaries (Google it)

https://www.reddit.com/r/raisedbynarcissists/
https://www.reddit.com/r/JustNoFamily

MagicCarpet

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #92 on: December 13, 2017, 07:00:05 PM »
Thank you NoraLenderBee. I took option B last time and here we are again three years later in the exact same situation. With even more resentment and anger built up. You're dead on that deep down I was hoping she'd see how unfair this is but she never will. I don't know why I feel like the guilty one! It's infuriating to me that she doesn't seem to feel an ounce herself. Here I am feeling bad about possibly making her get out of "her" house yet she had no problem making me do the same when the house I bought was sinking me. And now that I was able to rent mine out and turn it around in my favor she resents that I travel. Nothing is good enough and I'm done twisting myself in knots to try to accommodate her and her messes.

Funny I was just researching bullying and boundaries and then you sent those links. I need to work on that. I like your quote and also the one that says people will treat you however you allow them to.

Does anyone have any insight on whether she could get approved for a HELOC even with bad credit? The house is mortgage-free, worth about $500-600k and she could probably get $1000/mo rent for the apartment. She makes about $30k a year and her daughter probably about $15k although I'm sure she wouldn't add her daughter's income on the application. I'm also worried she'll intentionally make the application look bad to try to get denied on purpose. She may bank on hoping we wouldn't have the heart to make her sell.   
« Last Edit: December 13, 2017, 07:07:25 PM by MagicCarpet »

mozar

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #93 on: December 13, 2017, 08:16:17 PM »
Quote
Does anyone have any insight on whether she could get approved for a HELOC even with bad credit?

This is not your concern. I also recommend the book:
https://www.amazon.com/Codependent-No-More-Controlling-Yourself/dp/0894864025/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

MagicCarpet

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #94 on: December 14, 2017, 03:03:52 AM »
Thanks. I know technically it's not. Just hoping for some reassurance that she wouldn't necessarily have to move out. That book though - I guess I don't understand how me finally asking for what's rightfully mine and for this to be settled after 20 years is being codependent and controlling? Isn't that more what she's doing living basically off of me and my brother and dismissing us whenever we bring it up?

Villanelle

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #95 on: December 14, 2017, 04:53:35 AM »
Thanks. I know technically it's not. Just hoping for some reassurance that she wouldn't necessarily have to move out. That book though - I guess I don't understand how me finally asking for what's rightfully mine and for this to be settled after 20 years is being codependent and controlling? Isn't that more what she's doing living basically off of me and my brother and dismissing us whenever we bring it up?

She won't have to move out, but her *choices* may lead her to move out.  But remember, those are *HER* choices, not yours, not mater how well she tries to spin it.  She may *choose* not to get the HELOC.  She may *choose* to spend her money on other things and not be able to afford to buy you guys out.  She may *choose* all sorts of things that mean she can no longer afford the house.  But those are her choices, not yours.

And codependence is a reliance upon someone who requires support. It's an inability to set up a healthy boundary and keep your own life sufficiently detached from theirs. You allow yourself to be controlled by her because you allow yourself to be cast in the role of her savior, again and again and again, which means she calls the shots and she runs your life.  Stop that cycle.  Decide for yourself what is healthy and acceptable (and, hint!, asking her to finally hand over what is rightfully yours is healthy and acceptable!) and then stick to it.  Don't take her crappy decisions and irresponsibility on as your problem to solve, or your guilt to bear. 

Fishindude

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #96 on: December 14, 2017, 06:59:06 AM »
I'd probably work with my siblings and let the brother that is living there buy it cheap, maybe 20% less than appraisal.
Tell him he's got six months to get a mortgage worked out and buy the place from the estate (at a bargain), or it's going up for sale and he will need to find other living arrangements.

Deadlines tend to force people to act.
There may be some hurt feelings for a while, but most people will get over that stuff.

former player

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #97 on: December 14, 2017, 08:10:27 AM »
I'd probably work with my siblings and let the brother that is living there buy it cheap, maybe 20% less than appraisal.
Tell him he's got six months to get a mortgage worked out and buy the place from the estate (at a bargain), or it's going up for sale and he will need to find other living arrangements.

Deadlines tend to force people to act.
There may be some hurt feelings for a while, but most people will get over that stuff.
My strongest possible advice to MagicCarpet would be not to do this.  At this point giving anyone new ideas about options is a delaying tactic that gives other people opportunities to create further delays.  Let's face it: this has been going on for 20 years: if there were any solution other than selling up it would have been acted upon long ago.

MagicCarpet: your brother needs money and the two of you have been to the attorney together.  I don't know what your attorney has advised: I hope they have set out the course of action they intend to follow in order to get the house sold and what the likely timetable is.  It would probably not hurt to reinforce to your attorney that you and your brother wish to push a sale through to completion as soon as reasonably practicable and that your answer to any proposals which would delay the timetable your attorney outlined to you will be an automatic "no".

If either your sister or niece try to talk to you about the house you need to say to them "because the future of the house is now in the hands of the lawyers I am unable to discuss it with you".  Stick to that line and keep to it.  Don't start giving them any reasons or justifications, as those will give them the excuse to argue with you.  Just say "I can't talk about it", and walk away if they don't respect that.

Feel free to come back here for support.  You are doing a good thing freeing yourself from these chains.



PoutineLover

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #98 on: December 14, 2017, 10:56:53 AM »
This type of situation is apparently quite common. My family has the same issue. The house is occupied by one sibling, while two others await their share. No easy solution when it means kicking someone out of their home, but in the meantime it sucks for the others.

MagicCarpet

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Re: On inheritance and keeping family peace
« Reply #99 on: December 14, 2017, 01:23:46 PM »
What are you doing about your situation, PoutineLover?  Are the two siblings who are not in the house pursuing it? You think it'll never happen to you, but it does and it's horrible.  We were always so close before.  As a matter of fact that's exactly what my sister said to my brother last time she reached out to him wondering how it got to this point.  She doesn't see (or refuses to see) the big elephant in the room.

I would have absolutely worked with her in the beginning if she was even open to talking, but that time has long gone and I'm sick of the block-and-ignore response. And I don't like being bullied into the position of keep my mouth shut or lose my family. 

I'd be more than reasonable about taking less than I'm due just to once again make it easier on her and just be done with this.  I agree there needs to be a deadline.  I wouldn't even mind if it was two years down the road, just so long as there's some closure in sight.

I'm 99% sure this would mean the end whatever relationship is left with my family.  I feel sick about not being able to see my 8yo nephew anymore.  She will absolutely cut off contact with him just like she did last time.  And in a way I feel like I'm hurting him too by doing this.  He's innocent in all of this.

Former player I think I need to do what you suggested and leave it in the hands of the attorney.  I'm hoping in the end it won't as horrible as I'm building it up in my head??  And thanks so much for saying come back for support, the feedback is helping a lot.

Villanelle you're right about these being her choices.  I'm not so sure I've been her savior.  We've both helped each other out.  But she's had a hell of a lot more and bigger messes than me, let's say.  She's eight years older but most of the time I felt like I took care of HER.  Having cars and loans under my name because she and her ex couldn't, etc... that's what's incredulous to me too -- out of everyone, I am the last person she should be angry at for her situation.  She also makes me feel like because I don't have kids, my lifestyle is somehow not as important or worthy.  Never mind all I've done for her own kids.  It's funny because she took her ex to court for the same thing and doesn't see herself as evil for that. 

I am giving the attorney a retainer tomorrow.  I told him to hold off on delivering a letter to her until after the holidays.  I'm going to stay with a friend because if I stay here she and her daughter will make my life hell.  I've even had to park a few streets away because I have no doubt my niece would do something to my car!