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Families...and inheritance
Old 02-06-2021, 01:56 PM   #1
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Families...and inheritance

My DM just died. What a miserable thing Covid has done to families and society. It was absolutely heartbreaking that she was so isolated and alone.

And now it is over.

DS and I are the only heirs. We see eye to eye on just about everything, except the family house and its contents.

Neither of us live within several thousand miles of it or have any plans to move back to the old hometown.

I have no sentimental feelings for it and would happily see it all disappear... if it werenít for DS who is incredibly attached to it and everything in it. So far Iíve agreed to table any decision for a year or so, but what do you all suggest? Just say ďitís all yours, you deal with it as you likeĒ? Continue to keep it as a shrine, with all the associated costs, until she decides to let go? Push to clear it out and sell it?

Iím ok to postpone a decision for a while, but it really seems not just wasteful but downright dangerous to leave it empty (but to keep up the upkeep and utilities to avoid it simply rotting away and collapsing)

Anybody have anything similar?
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Old 02-06-2021, 02:03 PM   #2
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Why not just agree on a value that becomes part of her share of the estate and you get the same amount of value/your half without getting the house?

When I helped DM write her will we wrote that kind a split into the will. The family lake house went to DB and DS because DW and I already had a lake house. The will established that the value of the place would be the Estimated Market Value per the county tax rolls. This was undoubtedly a bit low but I did not want to get into dueling appraisals and potential arguments. Everything went just fine.
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Old 02-06-2021, 02:09 PM   #3
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Iím so sorry for your loss. This virus is just terrible.
Obviously, the home will become a burden if neither of you live nearby. Your sister may just need some time. It probably wonít need to be a full year, but just a month or two for reality to hit. It will take some time to settle the estate. Use it to prepare the home for sale or possibly rental if she insists on keeping it. Youíll have a better grasp of all the financial aspects by then too, that may change her mind.
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Old 02-06-2021, 02:31 PM   #4
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What is the market value of the house?
Is 50% of that significant to you?
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Old 02-06-2021, 02:52 PM   #5
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Why not just agree on a value that becomes part of her share of the estate and you get the same amount of value/your half without getting the house?
I agree with Oldshooter, assuming the estate is large enough.

I have seen the shared inherited house twice, one from a far, and one personally. Neither ended well.

Even more difficult with you both being remote.

On the other hand, if the house is the majority of the estate, and you don't really need the money, quit claim it to DS, and take the balance of the estate.

If DS is not happy with either of these options, then there are bigger issues
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Old 02-06-2021, 02:52 PM   #6
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OP, so sorry for your loss. My DM is 89.5 and has dodged the COVID so far. She is waiting for her follow up shot as we speak. If you don't mind me asking, how old was your mother? My DS and I got rid of DM's house 10 years ago when she wanted to go into a CC facility. Her and her 88 yr old boyfriend are doing well living in a townhouse on the facility property. Good luck dealing with your DS regarding this inheritance.
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Old 02-06-2021, 02:55 PM   #7
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I can't imagine leaving a house unoccupied with all the contents for a year. Eventually it all has to be dealt with and the deterioration and possible damage from break in or utility failure would make final disposal that much worse. You don't sound too wrapped up in the $ considerations; if so and you can walk away I would and let her deal with it. If the money is a consideration any suggestion I can think of is all conditioned on relationship with DS.

Best of luck, and sorry for the loss. Covid has touched so many. Got my first jab Wednesday and it brought tears of joy to my eyes. Traded txts with friends in FL who are waking up at 5 am, 3-5 family members with two devices each trying desperately to get appointments for elderly relatives. FWIW I was super impressed w our local health system's organization. They could have been processing 3x the people if they had the doses. 23 minutes from in the door to out.
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Old 02-06-2021, 03:00 PM   #8
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OP, be aware insurers may not cover losses to the home and contents if it is unoccupied. Something you need to look into if you and your sister delay taking action on the house.
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Old 02-06-2021, 03:24 PM   #9
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I am sorry for your loss and for the conflict between you and your sister.

However, the decision as to what to do with the house is up to the owner. This was probably your Mom. If it was your Mom, then what happens to the house depends on what your Mom wrote in her will. If your Mom didn't have a will, then it will depend on the state laws of intestacy in your Mom's state of residency.

If it was your Mom's house, then the person responsible for executing what happens with the house will fall to her executor. If she had a will, the executor would be whomever was named in the will. If she didn't, then I think the usual procedure is for someone to apply to a state probate court to become the executor.

As a practical matter, the executor is in control. However, family considerations (i.e., your sister's opinion) may impact how the executor executes your Mom's wishes.

If any of the if's above aren't correct guesses, then the answer would be different. For example if the home is owned by you and your sister instead of your Mom, or if your Mom's state of residency and the state in which the house is located aren't the same, then that's a different kettle of fish.

Bottom line, though, it's probably up to your Mom's wishes, not yours or your sister's. (Although your Mom may have done something like leave the house to the two of you. If she did, that's a harder situation.)

If you're executor and don't want to be, you probably have the option to decline to do the job. If you don't need the money and have somehow inherited half the house with your sister, you also probably have the option to disclaim your 50% interest and then the house would go fully to your sister. There are timelines and rules about disclaimers that you should know about to properly execute one.
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Old 02-06-2021, 03:49 PM   #10
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So sorry for your loss.

+1 to REWahoo and SecondCor521

Insurers don’t like vacant houses. They deteriorate when not used, are more susceptible to crime, and remote maintenance is costly and time consuming,

What your DM wanted and instructed WRT the house in her will matters. Perhaps you can go to the house, identify the things of value, both sentimental and financial, ask / offer to your DS those which she wants, and give away / dispose of the rest. That may help her reduce attachment to the house itself.
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Old 02-06-2021, 04:11 PM   #11
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OP, be aware insurers may not cover losses to the home and contents if it is unoccupied. Something you need to look into if you and your sister delay taking action on the house.
This is what we experienced. While the house was vacant, the only insurance option was fire insurance on the dwelling. We confirmed with our insurance carrier that they would provide liability coverage in the event of accident/whatever. It took us 4 months to sell as she was a packrat and it took us a while to get the house ready for auction.
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Old 02-06-2021, 04:25 PM   #12
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So sorry for your loss.

From my experience, it's a big mistake to leave a house unoccupied for a long period of time. I owned a house that remained vacant for two and a half years while we lived thousands of miles away (the plan was always to move back in at some point). We could only get fire insurance for it. Vandalism wasn't covered and empty houses are a magnet for squatters, so that was always a concern (thankfully, we had neighbors who kept an eye on suspicious activity). Anyways, the A/C broke down one winter and, by the time we found out, mildew had started to grow everywhere. It took a very expensive remediation process to fix the problem. But it could have been a roof leak or a host of other problems.

If it were my DS wanting to keep our parents' house, I'd ask her to buy me out of it.
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Old 02-06-2021, 04:42 PM   #13
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I am sorry for your loss. It is especially difficult with covid.


Hoping you and your DS can work out an agreement so she can have the house and you get your share from other available assets.
Like many of the other posts, having a house sit empty is not good.
A few years ago my uncle passed and my aunt was already in an adult foster home. I had the responsibility to clear out the house and sell it. Uncle passed in January and house sold in August. It was my part time job going over there every weekend and working on cleaning it out. It took several months before my aunt was ready to let go, but when she was I moved on getting it ready and on the market. I can't imagine being thousands of miles away and dealing with a house.
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Old 02-06-2021, 08:24 PM   #14
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I am so sorry for your loss.
As others have mentioned, an empty house is not good.
When my last parent passed, we could only get fire insurance. It took several months to get it cleaned out and ready to sell, and that was with all 4 of us kids working together, as we all lived nearby.
It sounds like you and your sister may need to travel to Moms house and at least deal with the will, if there is one, to get the estate moving.
Leaving things for a year does not sound like a feasible option.
Take care.
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Old 02-06-2021, 08:39 PM   #15
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Sorry for your loss.

We will likely have a similar situation once my Mom passes.... at least 2 of my 4 siblings will be keen to keep the family vacation home (since 1960) and 2 or 3 of us love the place but have no interest in owing it and zero interest in owning it with our siblings (even though we all get along pretty well). Luckily, there are other assets in the estate where we can hopefully agree on a fair value for it and those that want the property will get less investments and those that don't will get more and all will be good. Essentially those who want it will buy out those who don't but with inheritance money. So if there is money in the estate beyond the property and/or your DS has some money then the easiest thing would be to have her buy you out. You might even consider deeding her your share in exchange for a mortgage where she would pay you your share over time.

Another possibility is to keep it at least for a while and rent it. However that would likely require some work to get it ready and then you could hire out the property management. Hopefully, the rent would cover all the expenses including any property management costs and the owners would also benefit from any appreciation of the property. Do you have any reliable relatives in the area who you might hire to manage the property as a side gig? Or any reliable relatives who might want a sweet-heart deal on renting it. Nieces or nephews?

But I think you are probably right that the best and easiest thing is to sell it... perhaps in time your DS will come around to that.
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Old 02-06-2021, 08:49 PM   #16
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Condolences on your and your sister's loss.

As others have stated, I would also say discuss with your sister your difference of feeling about keeping or selling the house/contents.

If house is a large part of total estate, or valuable enough in its own right, talk to sister about fair market valuing the house (and contents). Then talk about assigning house and contents to her as "part" of her 50%. Your 50% of estate would come out of other funds/assets. Talk to her if she is really so attached to the house she would really want to keep it, and point out what problems "might" arise for her is she does keep it.

You say you and her see eye to eye on mostly everything else, so an upfront honest discussion between you two of this one issue seems like it should reveal a good course of action.

Good luck, let us all know how things progress!
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Old 02-06-2021, 09:34 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Dd852 View Post
My DM just died. What a miserable thing Covid has done to families and society. It was absolutely heartbreaking that she was so isolated and alone.

And now it is over.

DS and I are the only heirs. We see eye to eye on just about everything, except the family house and its contents.

Neither of us live within several thousand miles of it or have any plans to move back to the old hometown.

I have no sentimental feelings for it and would happily see it all disappear... if it weren’t for DS who is incredibly attached to it and everything in it. So far I’ve agreed to table any decision for a year or so, but what do you all suggest? Just say “it’s all yours, you deal with it as you like”? Continue to keep it as a shrine, with all the associated costs, until she decides to let go? Push to clear it out and sell it?

I’m ok to postpone a decision for a while, but it really seems not just wasteful but downright dangerous to leave it empty (but to keep up the upkeep and utilities to avoid it simply rotting away and collapsing)

Anybody have anything similar?
I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's passing. I was able to be with my dad when he passed about three weeks ago after they transferred him to the hospital for his last two days. I'm guessing that you weren't allowed to be with your mom, and for that, especially, I am so sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you...
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Old 02-06-2021, 10:04 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the responses. My mother was 84 - she was fine until suddenly she wasnít, and the last six weeks were awful.

My sister and I actually get along well so there isnít a conflict - just the issue of the house. We were left everything 50/50.

Thanks for raising the insurance issue - thatís a key one and may help make her decide.
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Old 02-06-2021, 10:40 PM   #19
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You mentioned that your DM just passed. Your sister's grief is raw. It may take her a little while to acknowledge that that house can't be left vacant. If you are so inclined, you can tell her to take what she wants out of the house. I suspect she'll come around.

My condolences to you and your sister for your loss.

Me, I was similar to your sister, but my parents' house was across the street from mine - and i was only child so - not the same.
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Old 02-06-2021, 11:35 PM   #20
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You mentioned that your DM just passed. Your sister's grief is raw. It may take her a little while to acknowledge that that house can't be left vacant. If you are so inclined, you can tell her to take what she wants out of the house. I suspect she'll come around.

My condolences to you and your sister for your loss.

Me, I was similar to your sister, but my parents' house was across the street from mine - and i was only child so - not the same.

Very true, and mine as well - and in grief we revert to basic natures: she focuses on sentiment and I on practicalities! Both are coping strategies for different personalities.
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