Estate issue -- getting a sibling to sell the house

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by citizenzen, Apr 19, 2015.

  1. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #1
    Looking for legal advice in a forum (always a smart move).

    Both parents dead. Sister-in-law and her family have been living in the home for years prior to parents dying. The home sale has been delayed while she got the kids off to college and some repairs made. Over two years later and the home still hasn't been put up for sale, with the sister flip-flopping, telling one sibling that the home will go on sale immediately while telling another that she'll be there another year.

    My wife (her sister) is tired of the vacillation and just wants this to get done.

    Anybody experience this kind of issue?

    Got any advice?
     
  2. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #2
    Not entirely clear as to the ties and links between the respective relationships here. Are the 'both parents dead' of your first sentence your parents, or your wife's parents?

    Did the sister-in-law provide care for them in their declining years? Was a will made? Who owned the house and who was it left to? What formal arrangements were made, and were any informal arrangements understood to be in place with regard to the disposal of the property?
     
  3. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #3
    My wife's parents. Sister-in-law's family lived with parents for financial reasons. Both parents died suddenly, so there wasn't a need for them to be cared for. There was a will, and the sister living in the home is the executor. The estate was divided equally between the three siblings.

    There were no formal arrangements made for disposal of the property. Informal arrangements have been sketchy. Siblings have something of a tumultuous relationship. All three siblings live a good distance from one another and communication between them has not been good.
     
  4. iLog.Genius macrumors 601

    iLog.Genius

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    #4
    Going to bypass all the legal stuff and just suggest this:

    If the sister-in-law is hesitant to move out, why not offer her to buy the house? If finances are an issue (usually are) then that's a problem in itself and you'll have to go back to determine who has the right to what in the estate and all that other legal stuff.

    I bring this up because a family member had a similar situation but finances were not an issue and instead of forcing one or the other to move out of the property, they came to agreement where feelings and emotions didn't get out of hand.
     
  5. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #5
    Finances are an issue. Sister living in the house cannot afford to buy it.

    Otherwise that would be an excellent solution.
     
  6. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #6
    Where is she supposed to move then?
     
  7. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #7
    Would it be possible to sell it to her at a bit below market value?
     
  8. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #8
    It's a big city, and she is employed, so there are many options available to her.

    She just seems reluctant to choose one.

    ----------

    The house is already going to be sold "as is". None of us have the kind of money necessary to bring it up to top condition. And I'm somewhat skeptical that the extra investment would be profitable.
     
  9. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #9
    No, I didn't ask about the condition of the house.

    Given that raising the market price of the house might be an issue for her (the price of the two shares of the two remaining siblings) what I asked was whether it would be possible to sell it to her at a price below the market price - irrespective of what that price is (or irrespective of what the state of the house is)?
     
  10. Apple fanboy macrumors Core

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    #10
    When my wife's mother died she was made executor of the will. Her brother was living with his mum (although she died of lukiemia he certinly wasn't helping care for her. More like the other way round). His half of the inheritance was actually in a trust even though he was in his 30's (he has always been a nightmare with jobs and money etc), which is quite unusual. I did the modernising of the property (he continued to live there, but didn't help) and we then sold it. We bought a smaller place for him to live in. Years later he wanted to sell it and move to another part of the country. We wound up the trust element of the estate, and let him get on with it.

    I would say to the op, if the siblings can't move on, why not agree on a rent for the property for the other two siblings not living there. A third of the rental price it would normally cost.
    That will either convince them they have to move on, or at least get some return for the other two?

    However as its family, going legal is the least desired option.
     
  11. Allograft macrumors regular

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    #11
    This is probably going to sound awful, but I deal with lots of conflict in my line.

    I'm not a lawyer, and this isn't legal advice. But because of that, I can probably also tell you things that lawyers can't or won't.

    You're screwed. If the sibling has a piece of ownership and is living there, she's not going anywhere. All roads likely lead to disdain

    Option 1) Probably pay way too much for a buy-out of the sibling and then sell the place yourself -> resentment on your part

    Option 2) Wait until the sibling eventually decides to sell because the same rights that prevent the sibling from being forced out will also prevent the sibling from being able to cut you out of the sale. Be aware that if the sibling is smart, she will probably try to use her paying monies for maintaining and improving along the way as a way of getting more than her equal share at the sale. Could be quite significant if it is 10-20 years down the line.

    Option 3) Doesn't really make sense. Spend lots of money trying to get her out through legal persuasion and then being left ultimately back at either 1 or 2 with even less money because of all money spent on lawyers.

    Sucks, but reality is that when there is disputed property amongst sibships whose parents have passed away often leads to permanent splits in the sibships and life long anger and resentment.

    Another option would be if she lets the place fall into disrepair, but basically if she does an adequate job of keeping the place up, she's not going anywhere until she decides to. I've seen these kind of things locked up for decades and across generations because one branch of the family refuses to leave.

    Is what it is.
     
  12. puma1552 macrumors 601

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    #12
    not that this helps now but for future reference heres what my sister amd i did when my mom died.

    house was paid off, and my sister decided she wanted it, so she simply took a mortgage for half the value to buy me out.

    i dont think you have many/any options though at this point.
     
  13. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #13
    It's probably not possible, although I don't know her ability to get a loan. I wouldn't be averse to the option, as I'd be happy to facilitate getting them a place to live. My wife, however, tells me that they don't want to live there permanently, that they'd prefer to live in another part of the state.

    I do get the impression that we'll be stuck in this limbo for a while yet, until they can get their lives in order enough to make that move.
     
  14. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

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    #14
    Sounds like a tough situation. It's encouraging that it sounds like they want to move (if they're actually being honest about). It will probably take a while whatever the outcome.

    If the sibling doesn't have a lot of money and isn't assertive or "smart" (for a lack of a better term), I suppose you could threaten legal action and see what happens. If she can't afford a lawyer on her end it will make things difficult for her I'd imagine. The threat alone might be enough to get her moving along. Obviously this is a terrible solution to have to come to, I'd never want to sue my family out of their home (in the emotional sense), but I suppose it is an option.

    I would have your wife and her other sibling continue to pressure the sibling in the house. You could come up with a list of options with the non-resident sibling, agree to order the solutions from the most preferable to the least- selling, renting out, sell below market value, legal action, etc. Then present them overtime and hope something sticks.

    Perhaps offering to take care of the expense of moving would be a motivator. Obviously moving is not cheap, very stressful, and the thought of boxing everything and moving it can be overwhelming. In the end it might be enough to tip the scales and catalyze the process.


    Another option you may not have considered is Inception.
     
  15. Macky-Mac, Apr 19, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2015

    Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

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    #15
    This is really what needs to happen first. The two of them really need to set aside whatever differences and form a united front to deal with the sister who's taking advantage of the situation.

    Together, they have to tell the resident sibling that there needs to be an agreed upon schedule for the house to go on the market.

    get a lawyer.......you know what they're for!

    But I'd say try getting your wife to act together with the 3rd sibling first
     
  16. citizenzen thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #16
    We're doing our best to be patient. Today was a setback because my wife had been told that the house was going up for sale May 1st, only to find out in a phone conversation with her other sibling that the sister planned to stay another year.

    Obviously, open, honest and constant communication is the best thing, but that isn't what you always get with stressed and quarrelsome family members.
     
  17. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #17
    All I can say is that it sounds like a tough situation.

    I can relate somewhat-my Grandmother passed away last July, and my uncle(mom's brother) was living in the house with her.

    Fortunately, although his credit was poor, he was motivated to buy a house of his own. My mom's sister agreed to give him an advance on his inheritance from the sale of the house as a downpayment to buy his own house. He was agreeable, and my aunt(also the executor) was in a financial position to be able to do it.

    They are closing on my Grandmother's house next week.

    I wish I could offer you better advice, as I realize this is a difficult situation for you. We were fortunate in that things played out nicely, but I've dealt with enough family dynamics in this sort of situation to realize that's not always the case.

    On the other hand, my(virtually destitute) aunt was living with my grandfather(dad's father) a few years ago and he forced her out of the house while he was still living(and still living in it). Part of it was that they were too much alike and couldn't get along :) , but he also realized that just such a situation could develop if he allowed her to stay.
     
  18. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    #18
    How much money are you looking to get out of the estate when it sells. I imagine money is the factor all around. If it isn't money what is the rush to sell.
     
  19. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

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    #19
    I don't think being patient is the thing to do if it simply means simply acquiescing to whatever the sister says. That route's obviously not working.

    It's probably time for your wife to write a letter to her sister, with a copy to the other sibling, saying she's surprised to hear that the house isn't going on the market May 1st as the sister had previously indicated (promised?) and asking for both an explanation and a definite commitment to putting the house on the market at a date.......after all, it's been .....how many YEARS?

    Hopefully the 3rd sibling can be convinced to step in and agree that it's time to set a definite date.
     
  20. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #20
    I am not a lawyer.

    So basically, if you own the house, or own a part of the house, you can force a sale. Do that.

    If you don't own the house/estate, its not your house to sell. Nobody can force you to not sell something you own, against your will.
     
  21. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

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    #21
    Well there are multiple owners here and already someone living there. You can run into issues with "eviction", especially with no contract in play.
     
  22. puma1552 macrumors 601

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    #22
    I'd wager even if the money isn't a lot, the siblings still want to just sell the house and move on and close out the death of the parents.

    I could've allowed my sister to live in my mom's house for 20+ years, or she could've just bought out my half from the start and then it's her house, her repairs, her equity, etc. which was the easy way to go and what we did.

    By allowing a sibling to live there for an extended period of time beyond a death, all of that gets murky; who pays for expensive home repairs, does it come out of equity when the house sells down the road? What about the equity, is it split equally or does it need to be prorated for work the sibling living there did? What if the sibling living there lets it turn into a dump and the value tanks? All of these things complicate matters and make a huge mess, so it's usually best that if someone wants to live in the house, they just buy it out from the other siblings from the beginning.
     
  23. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #23
    No you can't. At most you force her to move. If there's no contract involved, you force the sale.
     
  24. MacNut macrumors Core

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    #24
    Ideally yes, if one wants the house they buy everyone else out. The issue here seems to be what is the price. Either way this should have cleared the estate a long time ago. Now there is no easy way out. Everyone takes a loss or kicks the other person out.
     
  25. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #25
    In Connecticut I know it can be difficult to do things like this because first you have to evict the current tenant but I believe the exception to that is foreclosure. In this case obviously foreclosure is not happening but there is unfortunately no contract (that we know of). Eviction is easier in some places than others, but in CT (at least where I lived, as eviction laws are determined by the city or county usually) there are "squatter rights" and it's a lengthy process to get someone out, especially if they have lived there for a while. I know a couple stories with welcomed back ex wives and adult children not leaving when asked. With the sister as a partial owner and the executor, there's probably some more holes to jump though.

    I think the OP is hoping not to have to get the point of legal action though and looking for suggestions otherwise.
    Therefore he is looking creative solutions to help facilitate the process.

    I think mailing a letter is a good way to confront the issue as face to face/over the phone may be a emotionally difficult for all parties. If you send a letter, send it certified so you have evidence she recieved it.

    Another possibility is offer her deal that sounds enticing but ultimately locks her into a contract- like living there for a 6-12 months free, paying her moving expenses at the end, maybe some utilities, etc. Pscyhologically the stress and fear of leaving may be subdued and appears distant while providing the comfort of security in the meantime.

    As an aside, if you want to hear about ugly stories- my pompous Uncle divorced his wife after 2 years of marriage and a kid. He owned an $10,000,000 house (property, estate, castle?) outside of NYC prior to the marriage. In the divorce somehow the ex managed to get half, and as a licensed real estate agent legally swindled her way into becoming the sole real estate agent to sell the house. Well she had little money of her own so decided to live in the house for years and try not to sell the house. At one point the judge ruled the houses asking price would reduce 50k/month until sold. Between that, not maintaining the 15,000 sq ft house and extensive landscaping, it fell into disrepair and sold for nothing (relatively speaking). Not to worry, she found a new rich husband to bail her out of all her debt though.
     

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