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  1. #1
    Stood in the Fire WarlockJack's Avatar
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    Unhappy Advice on Inheriting a house we rebuilt, live in & maintain w/ a VERY greedy sibling?

    I'd like to preface this by saying this is not about greed. Please read the whole post before you make a judgement.

    Also I have this question posted on other forums of people that I talk to. I'm just trying to get as much advice as I can.

    Here's what happened. My wife's parents were in an area that took a lot of flood damage. They're very poor and they needed help with their house that was built in 1910.

    My wife and I hand-mixed over 240 bags of cement, poured a new cement floor for their basement and repaired their failing cinder block wall foundation. We then tore all their rotted supporting timber out from the basement and framed it all out with new wood. After that, we hand-dug and built a new septic system to replace their TERRIBLE and gross cesspool system. I finally rewired their house with a new breaker box and modern wiring, lights, plugs and switches. Along with all that, I've done varying amounts of plumping, and handyman stuff all over.

    Its not a bad house at all, but after the flooding, it would have FALLEN DOWN if we hadn't done the structural work to it.

    Now after fixing up their house, they liked having us around so much; they asked us to move in (that's odd for a lot of people, but our family is rather close). So after a lot of thinking, we decided to build an apartment in their basement that I had just redone. So I built an entire kitchen, living room, bed room and bathroom with complete electrical and plumbing into the basement, along with our own separate entrance to the outside.

    It's turned out pretty cool and fun (along with a LOT of work... I don't even want to know how many hours I have into this!).

    We've spent around $20k for all the materials which was all our savings. At this point we don't have good jobs anymore either, so it's not likely we'll get that money back.

    ----------------------------

    Now to the question... The reason I ask is because my wife's parents are in bad health. They both smoke and eat a TON and have severe health problems. We're trying to work with them to regain their health but they're very stubborn.

    The ISSUE is that my wife has a 17yo sister. I totally wouldn't have any issues working with her either. As you can see from above, I totally don't mind helping, ya know? However she is VERY VERY VERY GREEDY and self-centered. Everything is always about what SHE is getting and what credit that SHE "deserves". She is always causing problems at almost EVERY family get-together whenever the world isn't revolving around her. She does not help. She does NO chores. She just complains and takes. My wife's parents had her sister when they were way too old to have another child... which is where I think that stems from. My wife got discipline and responsibility... her sister didn't. Its been very frustrating to live around that let me tell you!

    When her parents do pass away, I'm going to be faced with the fact that she WILL tell us she deserves part of the house. I.E. we need to sell the house or come up with the money for it!

    We've rebuilt this house, I maintain this house and now we live in it. We're VERY attached to our part of it as we have built it ourselves JUST the way we like it!

    We will probably end up telling her that we're not going to move out and there is no way for us to come up with the money. That's gonna go over well. I am 100% positive she will sue us over it too... hell... she yelled at me once cause I ate her applesauce. O_O

    Her parents have no will... anything like that. What if they don't write one with some sort of protection for us in it (or worse)? They are terrible at financial planning (not that I'm a guru either). Should I (or my wife) go to them and talk about it? Is that rude? I don't even feel like its my place to talk about that! I don't want them to die at all. I really like her parents. ...but it IS something that REALLY scares me. Its frustrating me to even have to think about this.

    Thank you for any advice you have!!

  2. #2
    Talk to your in-laws about your concerns, and suggest that in their will they should give the house to your wife with a condition that she cannot kick out her sister as long as the sister remains out of trouble with the law.

    That would be my suggestion, but if your family is really as close as you say, sitting down with your in-laws and having a serious discussion should have been the first thing you did.

  3. #3
    Stood in the Fire WarlockJack's Avatar
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    Yeah, I've thought about what you're saying. She's pretty bad... I mean, if she's under 18; i totally wouldn't kick her out. But I can't imagine living with that girl for an extended period of time. *shudder*

    I just don't know how to talk to someone about them dying. :-( I guess I'll have to let my wife handle most of it cause I don't think its my place.

  4. #4
    When the parents die. What do you think is fair for the sister to inherent?

    To me, regardless of what you guys have done to the house. She should get half when the parents pass.

    Would you think she should get $20,000ish less then the your wife?

  5. #5
    It really should be something you talk about. You have to be practical and plan for these things, even if it's tough. If your in-laws are reasonable people I'm sure they'll see the benefits for everyone involved.

  6. #6
    Mechagnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by obdigore View Post
    Talk to your in-laws about your concerns, and suggest that in their will they should give the house to your wife with a condition that she cannot kick out her sister as long as the sister remains out of trouble with the law.

    That would be my suggestion, but if your family is really as close as you say, sitting down with your in-laws and having a serious discussion should have been the first thing you did.
    Don't do it by yourself, you might be close but you're still an outsider. Have your wife there and see how it goes. Just don't get them off side.

    Now, important bit, make sure you have copies of *every*thing you did on that house and try to calculate (using the best estimate you can) how much time you put in. Do it all now well before there is a problem.

    At least in Australia, a will means nothing anyway and your wife will be entitled to no more than 50% unless you can prove you invested time (into the property and your in-laws) and money.

    I know it's too late for this now, but having a property evaluation from before and after the renovations would've helped too so you can prove what value you added into the home should it need to be sold.

    The absolutely best advice I can give: talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. If you have concerns they can tell you exactly what you might need and the best way to get yourself the best outcome long before the greedy sister has even contemplated it.

    ---------- Post added 2013-01-17 at 04:16 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenbrew View Post
    When the parents die. What do you think is fair for the sister to inherent?

    To me, regardless of what you guys have done to the house. She should get half when the parents pass.

    Would you think she should get $20,000ish less then the your wife?
    I'm curious, if you've invested *your* money/time into something, you don't think you should get at least it returned? I want to go into business with you...

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by stuck4cash View Post
    I'm curious, if you've invested *your* money/time into something, you don't think you should get at least it returned? I want to go into business with you...
    With no proof of ownership. This is not an investment. Plus the sister is 17. Is she still at school? Does she work? Why should she get nothing if she's still at school? I'm not saying the sister should get half but she shouldn't walk away with nothing. I'm just trying to see what OP thinks would be fair.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenbrew View Post
    Would you think she should get $20,000ish less then the your wife?
    20K plus labor.

  9. #9
    Mechagnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenbrew View Post
    With no proof of ownership. This is not an investment. Plus the sister is 17. Is she still at school? Does she work? Why should she get nothing if she's still at school? I'm not saying the sister should get half but she shouldn't walk away with nothing. I'm just trying to see what OP thinks would be fair.
    They are effectively offering a loan that is being repaid in part by living there and upon death of the parents.

    I didn't say she should get nothing either, but she's not entitled to what they put into it either. He's suggesting what he wants, not what is fair and I was encouraging him to do what he expects her to do...get as much out of it as possible.

    I also suspect that the OP isn't Australian like us so $20k could be quite a big percentage of the sale price compared to here. It may well have turned a house that was worth nothing (except the land it's built on which isn't $200k in other countries) into one that fetches better than average for its area.

    And FYI, the sister may be 17 now, but it's unlikely that she'll still be 17 by the time the parents die.

  10. #10
    Herald of the Titans DEATHETERNAL's Avatar
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    I would suggest that your wife should talk to her parents about making a will. Telling them what she thinks they should put in it would be WAY out of bounds unless your sister were a criminal or something, but just having her (or maybe you and your wife, up to your judgment) talk to them about making a will at all would be my advice.

    You could ask them to consider that if they pass, you would like to keep living in the house since you did all that to help them. That wouldn't be over the line and you wouldn't specificly be asking them to leave you the house since they could make provisions that allow you to remain in the house even if you do not get full ownership.
    And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.
    Revelation 6:8

  11. #11
    Stood in the Fire WarlockJack's Avatar
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    Thank you for the advice so far guys. It is very helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenbrew View Post
    With no proof of ownership. This is not an investment. Plus the sister is 17. Is she still at school? Does she work? Why should she get nothing if she's still at school? I'm not saying the sister should get half but she shouldn't walk away with nothing. I'm just trying to see what OP thinks would be fair.
    I'm not saying she should get nothing... what I'm concerned about is that she'll string me out and MAKE me lose my home (the part I built to live in theoretically for a long time). She doesn't put anything in (and I know she's 17) but she won't ever bother helping in the future either. She said she's taking off when she's 18 cause she "hates it here". What she WILL do is make sure she gets whats hers as fast as possible... even if that means raking me over the coals and stripping me of all my money and my 'partial' house.

    To answer the question of how much this house is worth; its not a crappy house at all but its in a zone that's industrial now so it cant be rebuilt if over 50% gets destroyed and the land isn't worth much due to not being useful for industrial use. Last years estimate was I kid you not, $60k... and I've put $20k plus labor (We'd probably be talking over $15k in labor too if I had a professional do all that) into it. If it were on the other side of town, it would be a $140k+ house...

    To me... its something I built with my hands... who gets to build their house with their hands anymore? I'm proud of that! Also, it's been IN the family since new in 1910... I wouldn't want to sell off over 100 years of family history either.
    Last edited by WarlockJack; 2013-01-17 at 05:42 AM.

  12. #12
    Mechagnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeadlySteve View Post
    To answer the question of how much this house is worth; its not a crappy house at all but its in a zone that's industrial now so it cant be rebuilt if over 50% gets destroyed and the land isn't worth much due to not being useful for industrial use. Last years estimate was I kid you not, $60k... and I've put $20k plus labor (We'd probably be talking over $15k in labor too if I had a professional do all that) into it. If it were on the other side of town, it would be a $140k+ house...
    Yeah see, I don't think raven realise the price difference. In Australia, most houses are now $400-500k+. Even well out of a city of any reasonable size and the price would still be $100k+ for a small house.

    You probably put almost all the value into that house, it's unfair that your sister-in-law would basically make $20-30k while you lose $10k+.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by DeadlySteve View Post
    Thank you for the advice so far guys. It is very helpful.



    I'm not saying she should get nothing... what I'm concerned about is that she'll string me out and MAKE me lose my home (the part I built to live in theoretically for a long time). She doesn't put anything in (and I know she's 17) but she won't ever bother helping in the future either. She said she's taking off when she's 18 cause she "hates it here". What she WILL do is make sure she gets whats hers as fast as possible... even if that means raking me over the coals and stripping me of all my money and my 'partial' house.

    To answer the question of how much this house is worth; its not a crappy house at all but its in a zone that's industrial now so it cant be rebuilt if over 50% gets destroyed and the land isn't worth much due to not being useful for industrial use. Last years estimate was I kid you not, $60k... and I've put $20k plus labor (We'd probably be talking over $15k in labor too if I had a professional do all that) into it. If it were on the other side of town, it would be a $140k+ house...

    To me... its something I built with my hands... who gets to build their house with their hands anymore? I'm proud of that! Also, it's been IN the family since new in 1910... I wouldn't want to sell off over 100 years of family history either.
    You need to be financially prepared to pay her out. Otherwise you might have to sell.
    She'll also get lawyer's. So you have to add legal fees to this.

    Speak to her parents. Make sure they understand the financial commitment you have put into the property.
    You should be proud of the house but also get ready. Things can get messy.

    ---------- Post added 2013-01-17 at 05:52 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by stuck4cash View Post
    Yeah see, I don't think raven realise the price difference. In Australia, most houses are now $400-500k+. Even well out of a city of any reasonable size and the price would still be $100k+ for a small house.

    You probably put almost all the value into that house, it's unfair that your sister-in-law would basically make $20-30k while you lose $10k+.
    Yeah your right. Didn't realise that it was the dramatic of a difference!

  14. #14
    Stood in the Fire WarlockJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stuck4cash View Post
    Yeah see, I don't think raven realise the price difference. In Australia, most houses are now $400-500k+. Even well out of a city of any reasonable size and the price would still be $100k+ for a small house.

    You probably put almost all the value into that house, it's unfair that your sister-in-law would basically make $20-30k while you lose $10k+.
    And what I also have to consider is that I have a reasonably large house right now. Say I sell the house for $80, I get $40 and don't have a house. The BEST thing I can do to get that space back is go get a loan and get a house for $100k+... I have so/so credit and definitely can't afford a loan that big... so I'd have to downsize my entire life; whereas her sister would walk with $40 and most likely blow it all on stuff she didn't need.

    Again, I believe she should have inheritance, but we've gotta work our a different way for that.

    ...its becoming very apparent at this point that yes, we need to talk to them and depending on how that goes, talk to a lawyer. :-/

  15. #15
    Mechagnome
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeadlySteve View Post
    And what I also have to consider is that I have a reasonably large house right now. Say I sell the house for $80, I get $40 and don't have a house. The BEST thing I can do to get that space back is go get a loan and get a house for $100k+... I have so/so credit and definitely can't afford a loan that big... so I'd have to downsize my entire life; whereas her sister would walk with $40 and most likely blow it all on stuff she didn't need.

    Again, I believe she should have inheritance, but we've gotta work our a different way for that.

    ...its becoming very apparent at this point that yes, we need to talk to them and depending on how that goes, talk to a lawyer. :-/
    Use that as your reason for talking to the parents, you're looking out for her. They'll be happy with your generous nature but really you're trying to protect yourself.

  16. #16
    Also look for before and after photos of the house. As evidence of the work you have put in.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by DeadlySteve View Post
    I'd like to preface this by saying this is not about greed. Please read the whole post before you make a judgement.

    Also I have this question posted on other forums of people that I talk to. I'm just trying to get as much advice as I can.

    Here's what happened. My wife's parents were in an area that took a lot of flood damage. They're very poor and they needed help with their house that was built in 1910.

    My wife and I hand-mixed over 240 bags of cement, poured a new cement floor for their basement and repaired their failing cinder block wall foundation. We then tore all their rotted supporting timber out from the basement and framed it all out with new wood. After that, we hand-dug and built a new septic system to replace their TERRIBLE and gross cesspool system. I finally rewired their house with a new breaker box and modern wiring, lights, plugs and switches. Along with all that, I've done varying amounts of plumping, and handyman stuff all over.

    Its not a bad house at all, but after the flooding, it would have FALLEN DOWN if we hadn't done the structural work to it.

    Now after fixing up their house, they liked having us around so much; they asked us to move in (that's odd for a lot of people, but our family is rather close). So after a lot of thinking, we decided to build an apartment in their basement that I had just redone. So I built an entire kitchen, living room, bed room and bathroom with complete electrical and plumbing into the basement, along with our own separate entrance to the outside.

    It's turned out pretty cool and fun (along with a LOT of work... I don't even want to know how many hours I have into this!).

    We've spent around $20k for all the materials which was all our savings. At this point we don't have good jobs anymore either, so it's not likely we'll get that money back.

    ----------------------------

    Now to the question... The reason I ask is because my wife's parents are in bad health. They both smoke and eat a TON and have severe health problems. We're trying to work with them to regain their health but they're very stubborn.

    The ISSUE is that my wife has a 17yo sister. I totally wouldn't have any issues working with her either. As you can see from above, I totally don't mind helping, ya know? However she is VERY VERY VERY GREEDY and self-centered. Everything is always about what SHE is getting and what credit that SHE "deserves". She is always causing problems at almost EVERY family get-together whenever the world isn't revolving around her. She does not help. She does NO chores. She just complains and takes. My wife's parents had her sister when they were way too old to have another child... which is where I think that stems from. My wife got discipline and responsibility... her sister didn't. Its been very frustrating to live around that let me tell you!

    When her parents do pass away, I'm going to be faced with the fact that she WILL tell us she deserves part of the house. I.E. we need to sell the house or come up with the money for it!

    We've rebuilt this house, I maintain this house and now we live in it. We're VERY attached to our part of it as we have built it ourselves JUST the way we like it!

    We will probably end up telling her that we're not going to move out and there is no way for us to come up with the money. That's gonna go over well. I am 100% positive she will sue us over it too... hell... she yelled at me once cause I ate her applesauce. O_O

    Her parents have no will... anything like that. What if they don't write one with some sort of protection for us in it (or worse)? They are terrible at financial planning (not that I'm a guru either). Should I (or my wife) go to them and talk about it? Is that rude? I don't even feel like its my place to talk about that! I don't want them to die at all. I really like her parents. ...but it IS something that REALLY scares me. Its frustrating me to even have to think about this.

    Thank you for any advice you have!!
    Ugh! Again with the no end of life planning! No matter your age you need your affairs in order.

    What if something were to happen your in-laws or foe that matter you or your wife?

    The amount of things one can have thrown at you is enormous! Is there a living will? Who has power of attorney? Hospice care if things take a turn for the worse? What about spirtual concerns or grief counseling?

    Even if you all live to be a hundred there's still the issue of nursing homes, assisted living, at home nursing? And how will you pay for it when you can't work anymore?

    You need an end of life plan all of you!

    P.S. In regards to legal matters with difficult family members are recommend consulting a legal professional you deem trustworthy.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by DeadlySteve View Post
    And what I also have to consider is that I have a reasonably large house right now. Say I sell the house for $80, I get $40 and don't have a house. The BEST thing I can do to get that space back is go get a loan and get a house for $100k+... I have so/so credit and definitely can't afford a loan that big... so I'd have to downsize my entire life;
    Lets say you can sell the house for 80. You and your wife get half the house (with the possibility of more). Why can't you just get a bank loan and buy they other half of the house from the sister. Using the equity you already have in the house as a guarantee.

  19. #19
    Stood in the Fire WarlockJack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greaneto View Post
    To me, regardless of what you guys have done to the house. She should get half when the parents pass.
    This is just ridiculous to me. You're telling me that if you spent all your money taking a house that was about to collapse in on itself and was falling apart and completely renovated it using your own money (turned garbage into gold), took care of it for years to come, took care of the old, broken people living in it and put all yourself into it... you'd then lose ridiculous amounts of money to a person who could care less about the family without bothering to fight... what a joke. I don't believe you at all. If you dug a 6x12x12 hole with a shovel, hand-mixed 240 60lb bags of cement, nailed thousands of nails with a hammer, tore apart ALL the walls in the house to run electrical wire, etc, you would not hand thousands of dollars to a greedy child with no life experience and basically ruin your life. Your statement is useless sir!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenbrew View Post
    Lets say you can sell the house for 80. You and your wife get half the house (with the possibility of more). Why can't you just get a bank loan and buy they other half of the house from the sister. Using the equity you already have in the house as a guarantee.
    This is interesting. I'm admittedly not super-awesome with financial affairs and that didn't occur to me as a potential outcome. Thank you for that.

    Also to Kage, you are of course completely right. Its all long overdue!

  20. #20
    The Lightbringer Whitey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeadlySteve View Post

    I'm not saying she should get nothing... what I'm concerned about is that she'll string me out and MAKE me lose my home (the part I built to live in theoretically for a long time). She doesn't put anything in (and I know she's 17) but she won't ever bother helping in the future either. She said she's taking off when she's 18 cause she "hates it here". What she WILL do is make sure she gets whats hers as fast as possible... even if that means raking me over the coals and stripping me of all my money and my 'partial' house.
    She's a teenager, so I'm not surprised of the selfishness. You on the other hand I do ponder about, an awful lot of me, myself and I there taking into account that it's your wifes family.
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