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The house is in my name from Life Estate made 10+ years ago. He had minimal contact with mom, none for a 10 year stretch. He has written letters, a couple a year for the last 12 years, usually asking for money. Now he is claiming that he inherited 1/4 the house when my father died in the 60's? The house was in both my parents names jointly and passed to my mother who held the deed solely in her name until the Life Estate.
When I went to the lawyer with the Will, he said there was nothing left to probate. The money was in joint accounts with me, not that there was much more than the funeral, and there wasn't much in the house. He said the house is mine already. The Will left everything to me anyway and nothing to my brother, there is a lot more background story but I'm trying to make this short. Now that I've heard from him I'm going back to the lawyer. Knowing my brother, there will be no end to this.

I think I should just let the lawyer handle it? Anyone have advice?

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Went to my lawyer. He again said that both the Will and Life Estate were solid, but of course anyone can contest anything. I had never read the Will before, never had a reason to question my mother. My brother was mentioned as receiving nothing, for "reasons known only to my mother". This was after she left money for her cat! There is also the clause at the end about anyone challenging the will not receiving anything, that they will be considered to have predeceased the Will. Even the lawyer said it didn't have to be worded that harshly. But he said she was very clear on her intentions.
He suggested I write the letter, being as nice as possible. He'll look it over before I send it. After that he will take care of all further contact.
This is the hardest thing I've ever had to write. So many mixed emotions. On the one hand, its terrible news to send someone and I'm feeling selfish. On the other, I remember all the horrible things he's done to my mother. Plus there's the fact its like writing to a stranger as I haven't spoken to him in over 25 years!
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You mention taking a will to the attorney....so that would take precedent unless your brother could produce a will written LATER than the one you took to the lawyer. Seems to me like your Mom expected your brother to show up and harass you, and because you were there helping her, she wanted to assure that you were able to have the house....thus the Life Estate and the will. Your brother, she may figure, got his share all those times he came for money. My MIL lent us money to buy a house, when things got difficult at the last minute in the process. And when she did, she told my hubby that she would have an addendum put into her will that he would get that amount less than the others as a way to 'pay her back' in the end, unless he had paid her back in full before she died. It worked for us. We had paid back a lot of it before she died, and the lawyer just required our proof of payments made, and he did an adjustment and the will paid out the cash the way she wanted.....one son, who she had serious issue with, got NO CASH, the other two split the cash 50-50 but minus what my husband and I still owed from the house down payment, so that amount was paid back to the other brother. There were no hard feelings....and clear statements in the will as to why the one son got nothing and some legal statement added in her will that stipulated that no one could try to sue over the will or they would get zero. She had good lawyers! But she had had to go through 2 weeks in court when that ousted son and daughter in law, challenged her husband's will and made claims that she had coerced him into changing it all. Long story. She was determined that no one would do that again in her family. I think the advice about only having communictions being with your attorney is the right answer here. Just give your brother the lawyer's name and number and sweetly tell him that since the lawyer handled it all and you are not a legal expert, you are deferring all to the attorney directly. And I think I would do that in writing with a copy to the attorney, so it's recorded in case your brother might want to allege that you kept him from getting info he was entitled to! EVERYTHING in writing with copies kept by you. Brother will probably go away.
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The house belongs to you so just let your lawyer deal with him if he tries to make a claim. The less contact you have with your brother the better off you will be.
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Yes, if your mother's name was on the warranty deed, it indicated that your dad left it to her alone. I would just shrug brother off and not even worry with an attorney. He has no grounds for what he's saying.
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Thanks for all the help, some great advice. This site was always great when I was taking care of her, great ideas. Lawyer it is.
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I think you should let your brother make the first move with HIS attorney. He's got nothing. If you need peace of mind, see an attorney to assure the house belongs to you. He's just rattling his sabre.
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The Life Estate lets the person live in the house for the rest of their life even though the title transferred to someone else. Right now the title says "Debbie XXXX, Life Estate Mom's name. The taxes come in my name. If my brother googled the address, it says it was sold to me in 2002. She wanted to protect her house in case she got really ill.
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Based on your latest post stating that he's violent, I would also change my advice to let an attorney handle the situation; if he threatens a law firm, they'll take action right away.

I would also start documenting his contact with you in case he does threaten or become violent and you need to request a restraining order.
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Let the lawyer handle it. I'll bet that if you were to give him anything he will just keep turning up demanding more.
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It's my understanding that a person who has Life Estate gets to live in the house for the rest of their life, and if they move or pass, then the house goes to whomever was named in the Will. Please clarify who was living in the house under the Life Estate.
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Let the lawyer handle it. He could likely contest a Will that totally excluded him, but it doesn't sound like there was anything to probate. Do not respond to his nagging, just turn off the noise.
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That's why I'm going back to the lawyer, to find out how to answer this letter. Anything I say will send him though the roof when he finds out I own the house. He really made my mother's life hell. She was also terrified of him as when he did live here as he hit her. I was always stepping in between so he really dislikes me in the first place.
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I'm no an expert but I'm not aware of any verbal conveyances that supercede a written will or other written conveyances such as you mention. I think your brother is trying to intimidate you into being frightened, perhaps to give him some money as it sounds as though he needs financial assistance frequently.

It would be helpful if one of the experts (the forum attorneys) opinions on this issue.
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He's claiming mom told him that he and I each inherited 1/4 the house and she 1/2. I know my mom didn't say that. My mom also had to pay over 20 years left on the mortgage! My dad died young.
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Why one fourth? Were there 4 siblings? Or is he thinking your parents, you and he - therefore, 1/4 for each? I just don't see the logic of his claim of 1/4 of the house.

And for what specifically is he asking? Does he want you to pay him a 1/4 share of the value of the house?

I think what I might do to stop him now is to sweetly write to him (don't call as you'll have no documentation) and ask him specifically what it is he wants, but of course don't offer anything. Flush him out and find out what's going on.

Set a deadline for his response so this doesn't drag on and on.

In the meantime calculate the expenses of the house (especially property taxes, homeowners insurance) and be prepared to send him a bill for 1/4 of each year's annual costs, all the way back to the date he claims he inherited 1/4 share.

If that doesn't stop him, ask your attorney to contact him directly and establish the facts once and for all.
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