“I’m tired of being the only one with moral values”: my mother put me on the deed of her house. Now my brother wants half
My brother and I lost our parents a few months apart. My stepfather passed away, leaving his inheritance to our mother. My brother helped pay for my stepfather’s services and was reimbursed after my mother received the inheritance from our stepfather.
My brother renovated my parents’ house during our mother’s lifetime. My brother received several coupons from our mother for home improvement supplies and her labor. He sold some of our father-in-law’s possessions and kept the money. Our mom said she was ok with that, and so am I.
My mother’s illness got worse. I’m single, so I moved out of my apartment to be her babysitter once her health declined. My brother is married. He took care of our mother while I was at work during the day. I’ll take over for the rest of the evening.
Before our mother passed away, she gave me the deed of ownership and added me to all of her bank accounts as well. My brother was there and he didn’t say anything. We took turns taking her to the doctor, and he never mentioned the division of the house, or what would happen to him after our mother passed away.
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I repeatedly asked my brother if he wanted the house, and each time he said no. The house is vacant and free, and no mortgage is due. Previously, I had offered to give him the house, sell it or rent it, and my brother said no to all of those options. After our mother passed away, I removed her name from the deed, and now the deed is in my name only.
The time has passed. I moved into the house, and now my brother wants me to sell it and give him half the value, or take out a loan for half the house, and give it to him or give him half of what my roommate gives me to rent. He said things are not fair. My brother said I didn’t have any bills or mortgages and he had to pay his house $ 2,000 a month.
All the money that was left from our mother’s estate was returned to the house, and more. I gave my brother $ 10,000. I also shared our mother’s life insurance with him, and gave some to her son. If he wanted the house and the money, he was there during the whole process when our mother took care of the papers. I want to know if I am legally obliged to sell the house that was left to me to satisfy my brother. Could he sue me for half?
Tired of being the only one living on moral values
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You are convinced that you are 100% right. Anything else that contradicts this seems like a morally questionable position.
Your brother may have gone through a lot of emotions while your mom was sick, and for better or worse you seem like a very determined character. He might have thought, “Let her have it if it means that much to her.” Or, “I can’t handle this right now. Or, “This is just another example of our mother showing preferential treatment.” Or: “How can I stand up to my sister? Once she wants something, not much can be done about it. No one can get in his way.
You come from the unwavering position that it’s A-OK that your sick and / or dying mother, who relied on you for her care, cedes her share of the house to you – and if your brother wanted to do something about it, eh well, he had his chance. Not everyone is so strong-minded or pursues what they want. Not everyone thinks clearly when they mourn the death of a parent and face the disappearance of another.
Are you legally obligated? He could challenge you in court, although there is no guarantee that he will be successful. Are you morally obligated? All things considered, I think you should share half of your parents’ house.
The Argentist:My wife and I have 3 children. I also have 3 children from a previous marriage. How to divide our house between these 6 children?
I have a few questions for you: Why don’t you share the house? Why are you entitled to your mother’s house and why is your brother not entitled to his share of your family’s assets? Because you’ve decided that your mom should stop claiming her share from you, and whether she was lucky to disagree with that or not? Because he got a chance to say “yes” or “no” and, no luck, the time is up, and he sold some of your stepfather’s possessions, so if he can do that, you can have the house?
A car or a watch, or whatever it sold, doesn’t mean you can walk away with the lot. It is a sharp practice. This is not a “winner takes it all” game show.
It is a family home. It’s time to consider sitting down with your brother and a lawyer, and also think about your own moral position on this issue.
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Quentin Fottrell is the Moneyist columnist for MarketWatch. You can email The Moneyist for any financial and ethical questions at [email protected]. By sending your questions by email, you agree that they will be posted anonymously on MarketWatch.