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Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-13-2005, 04:02 PM   #1
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Advice on sibling manipulation.....

an elderly mother.

A friend in La Jolla, asked me for advice. He moved from England to the US in 2004 under the understanding that his mother was giving him (pre-will) a condo worth $700k in La Jolla that would have been his when her will is probated. He understood that he could live there free until she deceased. He put about $40k of renovation to refurb a dated condo.

Low and behold his two sisters have since talked to his mother and now she wants rent. And he's not privy to her will.

He's now sure the sisters are talking to the mother about amending her will. He wants to know if there is any way to gaurantee that the house won't go to them.

Ahhh, family, you just got to love em.

Anyone have advice on how he can protect the money he has put into the house?
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-13-2005, 04:05 PM   #2
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

None without a written agreement that I know of. It's all heresay and one person's word against anothers. Why anyone would do anything closely resembling this without a piece of paper is beyond my comprehension.
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-13-2005, 05:22 PM   #3
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

Surely, he can document his investment in that property and recoup something?

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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-13-2005, 06:02 PM   #4
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

>>He wants to know if there is any way to gaurantee that the house won't go to them.

I obviously don't know your friend, the mother, or the sisters, but doesn't seem all that unreasonable to me that they should get at least 1/3 of the estate each...is there some reason he (your friend) think he is entitled to almost a million dollars and his sisters get nothing?

Of course the $40K he put in is a different matter, but even if he only ends up with 1/3 of the $700K he'll come out way ahead....
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-13-2005, 06:32 PM   #5
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by farmerEd
>>He wants to know if there is any way to gaurantee that the house won't go to them.

I obviously don't know your friend, the mother, or the sisters, but doesn't seem all that unreasonable to me that they should get at least 1/3 of the estate each...is there some reason he (your friend) think he is entitled to almost a million dollars and his sisters get nothing?

Of course the $40K he put in is a different matter, but even if he only ends up with 1/3 of the $700K he'll come out way ahead....
There have been threads on wills/inheritance etc. I am still struggling.
My only excuse is that I got sidetracked on my parents. Now they are
pretty much set so I can get back on track.

My experience is that although it is a chore and can be expensive,
the more stuff you can get in writing the better. These situations can get
messy as this post illustrates. Those left behind me may not be
completely happy with their lot, but I will make it as fair and as clear
as I can, and it will all be written down.

JG
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-13-2005, 07:16 PM   #6
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

JG,
When you do the paperwork, how do you keep the siblings(vultures) away.

Let's say my friend had asked the mother to sign paperwork. Then the siblings (vultures) would have attacked claiming coercision, duplicity, etc.

Wow, the older I get the more cynical I seem.
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-13-2005, 07:17 PM   #7
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

OAP, I think the argument would be that in reliance on his mother's promise he could live in the house for free, and in reliance on his mother's promise he would get the condo when she died, he moved from England and sunk a bunch of money into the condo to his detriment. Therefore, arguably he would be entitled to the condo because he changed his position on the promise he would get that condo and get to live there rent free. The legal buzzwords are in italics.

But who wants to litigate with their relatives over this?

Maybe he could stay rent free until he is paid back for his improvements or reach an agreement that the money he puts into the condo goes to him when mom dies.
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-13-2005, 07:33 PM   #8
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

Martha,
Thanks for that advice. This place is great, good advice for every situation.

I feel for him, he really is a trusting (gullible) guy who always sees positive. He got a real dose of family intrique. I will pass the comments.

He asked for the rent free option but the two sisters had already aligned against him and his wife.

By the way, he is dealing with an 88 year old mother and her/his 92 year old step father. I'm learning a lot about leaving an air-tight will that goes to something besides sibling squabbles.
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-13-2005, 09:38 PM   #9
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldAgePensioner
JG,
When you do the paperwork, how do you keep the siblings(vultures) away.

Let's say my friend had asked the mother to sign paperwork.* Then the siblings (vultures) would have attacked claiming coercision, duplicity, etc.

Wow, the older I get the more cynical I seem.
Re. "cynical.........." yeah, me too. Anyway, anyone can sue if they really want to.
I've spent my share of time in court. The only thing worst than litigation
itself may be litigation among relatives.

JG
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-14-2005, 06:47 AM   #10
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

Wills can be changed.

If your friend is to have an interest in the property he needs a writing, formally executed under the laws of the state where the property is located. The writing can be a deed or contract, but to simply have the interest in the will today does not mean that it can/would be in the will tomorrow.

Litigating this matter with his sisters at some time in the future is not where he wants to be.
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-14-2005, 09:15 AM   #11
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

FarmerEd, (I failed to mention the the condo is his 1/3 share, the sisters get moms current home worth between $1.6-1.8 mil ). They are essentially trying to get it all. Eventually thos two sisters will turn on each other. Poetic Justice?
I agree, you would hope the mother did the right thing 1/3 each, but he already sees the sisters manipulating the mother against him.* The old lady is 86 or 88 years old (I forget) but what's even worse the step-father of 92 cut the wife out of his will several years ago.* Again, that was manipulated by his children by a former marriage. What a mess!

JG,
I have already seen two of my own siblings battle it out in court.* Wow, what a terrible thing to have to do.* Neither speak to each other now.

uncledrz,*
the friend told me his mother won't discuss the will with him at all.* I've passed on the suggestions from this thread to him.* Hopefully, he will make out OK.

to All, Thanks for all the great info.

As for me,* when I get back home after a 45 day work stint, I will have in place a NEW will that sets up somekind of income stream for my mother's needs.* And each sibling gets $1 because some don't need my money, some don't deserve my money.
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-14-2005, 09:52 AM   #12
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

Quote:
Low and behold his two sisters have since talked to his mother and now she wants rent.* And he's not privy to her will.

He's now sure the sisters are talking to the mother about amending her will. He wants to know if there is any way to gaurantee that the house won't go to them.
You don't say so, but I wonder if the mother lives in La Jolla too? Did she promise the house to your friend in order to get him to move closer to her? I ask because, IMHO, the sisters are being entirely blamed, when in fact, the mother's empty promises are to blame in large part.

My own (childless) great-aunt Rose promised a share of her house to god and everyone else before she died.* Having made those promises for years, she ended up leaving the house entirely to my Aunt Catherine.* (Aunt Catherine lived next door, handled Great Aunt Rose's caregiving for years, etc. It was not an unreasonable thing to do.)*

Well, all hell broke loose. My uncles blame Aunt Catherine for manipulating my great-aunt Rose (the original great manipulator herself). Catherine is enraged with these accusations and won't speak to her brothers or their children.

And so it goes -- anger, resentment, and bad behavior all the way around.* My great aunt made careless promises for her own reasons, then left a mess that will last for decades.

I've seen other elderly people throwing promises around about their estates -- seems to be pretty common. And I've seen them try to control their children from the grave (leaving money to a spendthrift child, for example, with a second child in charge of doling it out -- what a nightmare!)

I hope I can keep this in mind in my older years, and that I can care for others enough not to manipulate them with money and empty promises.

Caroline
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-14-2005, 01:40 PM   #13
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

Caroline,
Excellent questions! And yes, from my view, it looks like this lady is a fair bit of your great-aunt Rose. My friend told me that she has always played games to get her wishes.

And yes the mother lives just a mile away in LaJolla, the son had not lived near his mom in 35 years. So that could have been the mom's motive and I suspect it was and by the way, he mentioned it very early in our conversations.

He claims he has enough evidence to know the sisters have been bending the mom's ear on the subject. And from his description, one (65yo) is a spinster ex-school teacher who regularly calls his home in a drunken stupor, ranting and raving. The other is still living with the mother.


Changing the subject to my own future projections, my mom has controlled all her children's lives with the esception of me because I've always lived thousands of miles away and was financially independent. She uses money and there is always some form of sibling rivalry. Hasn't gotten bad yet. I hope my mom outlives me, if for no other reason, so I don't get involved.

I live about a thousand miles away now but I not as immune as before. When they used to call me to cry on my shoulder I would keep them on the phone at their expenses, then end with gosh I don't see how I can get involved. They saw those $100 phone bills and stopped calling. Now calls are free on weekends.

Gonna move back overseas, it felt really good having distance.

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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-14-2005, 03:14 PM   #14
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caroline

I hope I can keep this in mind in my older years, and that I can care for others enough not to manipulate them with money and empty promises.*

Caroline
Some of us didn't have to wait for our "older years". We have children who
try to manipulate us using money and empty promises.

JG
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-14-2005, 07:13 PM   #15
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

I'm not 100% clear about the desires of the parties involved. The mother could grant a remainder interest of the condo to your friend and the mother could retain a life estate interest for herself. Upon mother's death, her interest is gone, and the friend would have a fee simple absolute title to the property. In the meantime, he may consider renting the place, if that is what the mother wants. This plan would require the mother to sign a deed, don't know if the sisters would allow it. A mortgage on the property might make this plan very difficult.

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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-14-2005, 07:24 PM   #16
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

All this talk about wills and estate provides a good argument for only having one child. I'm an only child and will probably end up with all the rental property that I am advising my mother to buy. In turn, I only have one son and he will get all the assets that my wife and I will accumulate in the next 50-60 years. Even though he is 3 I consider one of my responsibilities is to teach him about wealth accumulation and preservation before I leave this lovely earth.
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-14-2005, 09:02 PM   #17
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

What happens if you die early, your wife remarries and has more children........?

What happens if the marriage breaks up, and you start two new families......?
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-15-2005, 07:57 AM   #18
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zipper
What happens if you die early, your wife remarries and has more children........?

What happens if the marriage breaks up, and you start two new families......?
Messy, messy, messy. A prenup takes away a lot of the
confusion though.

JG
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-15-2005, 08:12 AM   #19
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arif
All this talk about wills and estate provides a good argument for only having one child. I'm an only child and will probably end up with all the rental property that I am advising my mother to buy. In turn, I only have one son and he will get all the assets that my wife and I will accumulate in the next 50-60 years. Even though he is 3 I consider one of my responsibilities is to teach him about wealth accumulation and preservation before* I leave this lovely earth.
Having only one child makes this stufff a lot less messy. However,
that is a pretty cold system of family planning IMHO.

JG
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....
Old 08-15-2005, 08:20 AM   #20
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Re: Advice on sibling manipulation.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by justin
I'm not 100% clear about the desires of the parties involved.* The mother could grant a remainder interest of the condo to your friend and the mother could retain a life estate interest for herself.* Upon mother's death, her interest is gone, and the friend would have a fee simple absolute title to the property.* In the meantime, he may consider renting the place, if that is what the mother wants.* This plan would require the mother to sign a deed, don't know if the sisters would allow it.* A mortgage on the property might make this plan very difficult.*

Another problem is the ages of the players. I got lucky in having a
"window of opportunity" with my folks., I caught them between
not wanting any outside advice (messing with their money) and
recognizing that they just could not do it any more. Right now
my Mom is taking over the financial stuff. Totally lost. I am making
frequent house calls.

JG
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