By Quentin Fottrell
“Our brother still lives in the family home. He pays the taxes, insurance and utilities.
My mother died three years ago and left the house to my brother, sister and me. The rest of her bank account was split between the three of us.
Our brother still lives in the family home. He pays the taxes, insurance and utilities to live there. The house should be divided among us into three.
If he wants to continue living in the house I think he needs to take out a loan on the house at a fair price and buy out both my sister and me.
Where do I bring this up? He claims it’s his home as that’s where he lives and we need to let them know when we visit.
The house is in Florida and at the moment the market is up. He has no intention of leaving the house. What remedies do we have? He was the executor.
Thank you in advance for your time.
Good sorrow, get out
dear good sorrow,
The longer your brother is allowed to live there and insists that this house is now his, the more difficult the conversation becomes. He takes care of the house and pays the upkeep, so there’s no point in storming through the doors — with or without a pitchfork.
Trespassing and possession laws vary from state to state. You and your sister are listed on the deed, so you are legal co-owners of this home and you do not have a landlord/tenant agreement with your brother. Proceed with caution and with the advice of a lawyer.
If you are a co-owner you should have the legal right to live there and/or sell the property. It seems you are not interested in the former but in the latter. You know what you want, so I suggest you visit him as soon as possible and tell him, “We need to talk about the house.”
If he refuses to cooperate within an agreed-upon period of time, an attorney could file a probate petition to force the sale of your mother’s property. Property taxes in the meantime should be paid out of your mother’s estate and/or all three siblings.
In Florida, “when two or more beneficiaries are entitled to an distribution of undivided shares in an estate, the personal representative or each beneficiary may petition the court for division of the estate before the estate is closed,” states the state’s probate statute.
If you allow him to pay the taxes and child support, you make it harder for yourself when it comes time to divide up the proceeds of the estate. This arrangement may also create more resentment and confusion among the siblings about who should pay for what.
Taking legal action can be costly and time-consuming. It could permanently end your relationship with your brother and make any sale a challenge if he’s still there trying to deny access. You all have to ask yourself as a family if it’s worth it.
The threat of legal action is a powerful tool and can be used as a last resort. You want this house to be sold and the profit split evenly between all three siblings. That’s what your mother wanted, it says in the deed, and any court in the country would tell you that.
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More from Quentin Fottrell:
My mother left me out of her will – before she died, my sister paid out her pension plan, of which I was a beneficiary. Should I sue my family?
“I’m clean and sober”: My late father left me 25% of his estate, my wealthy brother 75%. My brother died 10 months later. Should I ask his son for his share?
“It still hurts”: My wife, who was just 1 year old, left me, took all her belongings and won’t answer the phone. How do I protect my finances?
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