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Family home dilemma

(17 Posts)
Nanamar Tue 11-Feb-20 08:57:14

My father-in-law put the family home, a two-family house, in my husband’s and his two sisters’ names years before he died. One sister has lived in one side of the home with her spouse for over fifty years while my mother and father-in-law originally occupied the other side. This sister paid minimal rent and were able to have their only daughter minded by my in-laws. In turn, she and her husband cared a lot for her parents as they aged. Before their father died the two sisters had a falling out. After he passed, the non-resident sister told her sister and my husband that she wanted them to buy her out of the house. My husband and the resident sister paid her off and the house is now in his and her names. The resident sister now collects rent from the tenant occupying the side of the house where her parents had lived. In order not to be bothered about maintenance, my husband takes no percentage of the rent. He now has Stage 4 Lung Cancer and prognosis is questionable. Although his sister and spouse are older, it may be that he predeceases them. As his beneficiary, this places me in the position of owning the house with them. His thought was that the house would ultimately pass on to our only son and their only daughter. I feel this is a ridiculous situation. He gets nothing from owning the home (we own our own), the two cousins are not anywhere in the vicinity and have their own homes, and I could find myself owning a home with an in-law. He is reluctant to ask for his share of the house since he wants to be a “good guy” and since he doesn’t know how his sister and spouse would be able to pay him. We are all retired, my husband and I have good professional pensions, his sister and spouse, not so much. Since they never had a mortgage or high rent, they sent their daughter to expensive private (in the UK public I guess) schools. His sister originally had the same kind of educational degrees that he and I have but she opted out of a career path which would have given her a good pension. I’ve told my husband that if/when he passes, I will approach them for my share of the house so it’s a matter of, “pay me now or pay me later,” but he’s holding firm. Just wondering about any perspectives that anyone out there has.

endlessstrife Tue 11-Feb-20 16:13:45

Do you have a good relationship with your sister and brother in law? Is it something you could discuss now, while your husband is alive? It seems a shame to spend too much precious time on this. If it really worries you, and your husband may feel he would like it sorted out while he still can, perhaps it would be prudent to take legal advice. It could give him peace of mind. Also, talk to your daughter and son in law, so they know what’s going on. I wish you all the best.

Baggs Tue 11-Feb-20 17:04:18

Why is it ridiculous for the house ultimately to be owned by your son and their daughter? If that is the likely scenario why not leave well alone and let those cousins sort it out if and when they want to?

Nanamar Tue 11-Feb-20 17:34:07

It’s not the ultimate that is so bad - it’s the in-between scenario - that is, my co-owning a home with my sister in law or, if she passes and I’m still around, with her husband - that seems bizarre to me. Our son, as I said, doesn’t even live around here and so sorting out the sale of the home, if that’s what the cousins ultimately decide, will be difficult. It just seems to me that since co-owning it gets my husband nothing at present, would be awkward for me if/when he passes, and a headache for our son eventually, it would be better to be out of the situation.

Nanamar Tue 11-Feb-20 17:36:07

Relationship is fine now but they went ballistic when the other sister asked to opt out, so my husband is probably not willing to face that response, especially since his health is so compromised.

paddyanne Tue 11-Feb-20 18:10:35

If your inlaws have lived there all their married life and did so mch ofr their parents I can imagine they want to stay put.Would selling your half mean they would need to move? If thats the case I think you need to sit it out and maybe get your husband to bypass you in his will in favour of your daughter .She could rent the house out as easily as your in laws and get an income from it .That would of course haev to be specified in the will that as it sher property she gets the rent .I wouldn't pressure MY husband over this if he was ill ,surely he has more than enough to contend with?

M0nica Tue 11-Feb-20 18:14:09

Could the house be divided permanently into tow homes or two flats? If you could do that, your DH could sell the half he owns independently of his sister and she could just continue living there, until she decided to sell her part of the house.

A friend of mine and her mther deliberately bought a house and turned it into 2 self contained flats and when her mother died she just sold her flat, while continuing to live in hers. More recently she sold that and moved elsewhere.

Hetty58 Tue 11-Feb-20 18:32:21

I can't see that it's much of a responsibility to part own. The rent covers maintenance and it has (and will) increase in value.

Paddyanne's idea of it being inherited by your daughter (rather than you) seems sensible. It will be a good investment for her.

Of course, your husband won't want his elderly sister and brother in law to be upset by any change in arrangements. When they both die, the situation could be reassessed.

Nanamar Tue 11-Feb-20 18:34:29

They wouldn’t need to move nor would we expect them to do so - that would be a hardship and pointless as well. The house is not mortgaged, it’s owned free and clear, but I that legally it has to stay one unit and cannot be separate entities. Even if it were able to be separated, my husband’s selling his unit would deprive his sister of rent she now collects (solely) because his unit would belong to another person. If she bought him out the entire home, both sides, would belong totally to her and she’d continue to collect the rent. In essence this is what she’s doing now and yet my husband’s name is still on the deed, in my opinion, for no real purpose or of no benefit to him. I even asked him to consider asking them for very small gradual payments over time, not a lump sum, just so that we know that eventually they’ed be buying him out.

Nanamar Tue 11-Feb-20 21:34:19

Thank you so much for all of your perspectives and suggestions. I guess that I am just more cut-throat than many. To me, a house is a dwelling for people or an asset/investment, that is, to collect rent/income or a property to sell and get that money or to build equity to secure a loan. At present, the house doesn’t become an asset of any value for my family until my in laws pass on and they no longer need it as their dwelling nor their income from the rent and it can be sold and the money split between the two heirs - my son and their daughter. It just seemed to me that since it’s their dwelling and a source of income for them, they should just own the whole house themselves. You are correct, I don’t want to and won’t badger my husband given his health status - I do think he is being very generous to his sister by not taking anything from this asset that’s in both their names. I guess since we scrimped and saved to buy our home and pay off our mortgage it’s hard for me to see someone get a home for relatively nothing in comparison. While I acknowledge that they did a lot for my in-laws, I also, as an only child, took care of my parents before they died and there are many out there who have done so without getting a home to live in and rent as income - or even an eventual inheritance.

paddyanne Tue 11-Feb-20 22:17:27

Isn't that what families do? If they've been married such a long time they must be quite elderly ,making life difficult for them wouldn't be kind.I think thats what your husband feels by your post .He'd rather leave things as they are and as its his inheritance I'd say he should have the final say .Stress in his condition wouldn't be fair .

Hetty58 Tue 11-Feb-20 23:10:06

It sounds as if you are jealous and really resent them having the benefit of that property. I wonder why? It's what their parents wanted.

If you don't need the money, do let things be. You anticipate owning half when your husband dies and feel that you would manage/do things differently.

I think that you really should respect his wishes above all else. He has helped and supported his sister, who is now elderly. It's just not the time to start arranging payments, is it?

fatgran57 Wed 12-Feb-20 05:12:12

How would they pay for your share of the house? They would not have very much money and would not get a mortgage at their ages.

It seems it would be best if your husband left his share to your son bypassing you altogether.

Daisymae Wed 12-Feb-20 09:58:49

Your sister in law has benefited enormously from her parents. I don't think it's what the in-laws wanted otherwise they would have left it to her. I totally agree that they should look to buy out your husband's inheritance. How you go about it is up to you. You may not want to discuss with your husband at the moment, bearing in mind his health, but you could take legal advice. seems to me that your sister in law has got her own way by being loud and argumentative. There's no reason that this has to continue ad infinitum.

Hetty58 Wed 12-Feb-20 10:07:18

I think any solicitor would take a very dim view of somebody anticipating an inheritance. I'm actually quite surprised that you do, with a sick husband to care for.

I disagree that you should expect an elderly, retired couple to buy you out. It seems heartless. Your husband should update his will and leave it to your son. Perhaps he will be kind enough to let them continue to enjoy the current arrangement.

Oopsadaisy3 Wed 12-Feb-20 10:59:06

Why have you waited so long to do this? It’s obviously been nagging away at you at the (in your mind) unfairness of it all for a very long time.

Leave it to your husband to do want he wants, it’s his inheritance after all, if he predeceases you or the family, then you can sort it out the way you want to.

It appears that you want to get some money out of them no matter how difficult it will probably be for them, so maybe you should be the one to make them buy you out, at least they won’t fall out with your DH in his ill health.

Nanamar Wed 12-Feb-20 18:12:11

Despite the way it sounds, it’s really not only about the money, however, we have had to hemorrhage money for my husband’s medical treatments and for mental health treatments for our son. They drive a BMW, we drive Toyotas. Our son went to public (free) schools and theirs to expensive ones. I am still on as a co-signer for their daughter’s loan, which she has had for 14 years, because she didn’t want to ask her parents. Yes I’m resentful. I didn’t wait until now to bring this up, I did so when the other sister first approached her sister and my husband to buy her out. Our solicitor and our financial advisor told us to extricate ourselves then but my husband didn’t have the heart to do that. So yes, I’ll give up b/c, you know, Karma. I’ll ask my advisors what if any benefit/detriment there is to bypassing me and putting our son’s name on the deed. Thanks everyone