My Mother is threatening a lawsuit against me. Any advice?

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18 years ago my Dad passed away. At that time in his will it stated that I would receive 30-acres of of his small 40-acre farm. I would also get the house and barn. My sister, who was never in their life for over 35 years, would receive a 10-acre farm parcel. On his deathbed in hospice Dad's last words to me were to hang onto the farm for as long as I can. He & I worked very hard on it and it was his life's accomplishment as he was an orphan growing up as a child. He passed the next day. A few months after, Mom went to their attorney and had the deeds transferred to cement his wishes. I had no idea of any of this until the past year when my sister dropped back into the picture. She(64) has since then twisted Mom(90) to revisit the will, etc. FYI My sister was charged with embezzlement and is money hungry for more "things" in her life like diamonds, old clocks, expensive music boxes(1 over $15k), etc. For the past year I have battled Mom and sister because they want me to sign back over the deeds to them for a different split. Mom has a life estate on the house and farm in my deed. Sister wants more as the farm lies at a new highway interchange and could go commercial. I have explained to both of them that this is not what Dad wanted and even told me so. Even Mom's old attorney told me this is what Dad wanted and why I have it. This brings me to today. Due to Mom's harassing phone calls for months I had to block her number. I am 60 and recently retired and don't need this crap. I received an email recently from Mom. I can tell my sister composed and wrote it though, most likely with Mom's approval. At the end of the email she gives me a deadline of about 10 days to sign everything back over to her or she will sue. So, I have done nothing, didn't know of their will or that Mom transferred the deed to me 18 years ago yet it is my fault?!?! If Mom needed the money for care I would not have a problem in doing so. I know what is going on as people in the community have told me. Sister wants to sell the farm and house and use the money to build her and Mom a huge estate thus sucking up all of the inheritance even before Mom passes. Both even have retained a big shot Real estate Attorney and tells me to contact him or else. I have talked to my attorney and he states they can sue but no chance they will win. It has been 18 years since she signed and all of a sudden she is claiming she didn't know what she signed. No, it's the influence of my older sister. Anyone ever have anything like this or any support for me? Thanks!

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Cterry, this can become quite a maze. I can understand your sister wanting to get her hands on the land that sits near the future highway interchange as she can see the money rolling in if she sells the land as commercial property. The deed is in your name, correct? And I assume the 10 acres your sister received isn't near the future interchange, correct? So she wants to swap land with you??

This isn't as simple as your sister thinks. Have either of you viewed the County Master Plans for this highway to see if the County or the State will take some of your land. You can check to see if the County owns any nearby land that you can swap out. If the road is limited access, then going commercial might not work for road frontage.

Putting the land that is yours into a Trust sounds interesting, talk it over with your Attorney first. If yes, see if you can create a new Trust name or maybe it isn't advisable. I have seen land purchases, building purchases, and famous people use a Trust name which makes it difficult for the average Joe to figure out who actually owns the land if they look at the land records. And usually the tax rolls shows a P.O. Box address or a company address.... such as the name of the "owner" is the address of the property with LLC at the end of the name. Thus, the "owner" for example could be 12345 Mount View Road LLC [or Trust].

Sounds like your sister doesn't understand "Life Estate". If you own the house and the land the house sits on, your Mom has life estate until she passes, even if Mom moves to a nursing home.

Ten days or your sister will sue? On what grounds [no pun intended]? She can't sue regarding the Will because the Will was read and distributed 18 years ago, and she wasn't left out of the Will since she got some acreage [statue of limitations probably has run out]. She was estranged when the land was divided. Correct?
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Reply to freqflyer
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Cherry, DON'T create anything without consulting your lawyer, and making sure you're aware of the ramifications of funding a trust. Not only would you have to have a deed conveying title to yourself as settlor and trustee, but there's just too much contention over the property now. Transferring title (which would be necessary to fund the trust) is just not appropriate now.

And I don't know the ramifications of a single person (w/heirs, or w/o heirs?) funding a trust and/or eventually selling it, nor am I aware of a single person conveying to heirs when title is in dispute.

Trust assets are treated differently for tax purposes. E.g., taxes on capital gains are taxed at a higher rate, so you could be inadvertently creating more complications if you eventually want to sell the property. Plus there's the added issue of it being a performing asset (I'm assuming farming is taking place), and a "going concern" if it's performing in a commercial capacity (this is also not w/I my field of knowledge).

This aspect of trusts is way beyond me, so all I will venture is "tread carefully, with your attorney guiding you."

And since title is in contention, there might eventually be some question as to the legality of your conveying it to the trust, which would be required to "put" the property in trust.

I won't even try to discuss a blind trust as I'm just not knowledgeable about them beyond use by politicians.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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Thanks again for the advice. I was wondering if I should create a trust and put the deed in a blind trust. This way they might think I sold it or at least it would get them off my back or even keep them confused. I don't want to actually sell it at this point, but I understand I could even sell it with the life estate but obviously would end up losing money. Just trying to think of all of the options I have to mainly reduce the stress that they are creating. Bottom line is I will not let me sister get her hands on it. This is not what Dad wanted and I have to ultimately live with myself in trying to see that his last words to me are cared out. Thanks again for your comments.
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Reply to Cterry877u
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Terry, follow Ahmijoy's good advice. Don't communicate with the adversarial family, at all, other than to direct them to your attorney and indicate that they'll pay his/her fees for that contact!    That might shake them up a bit.   And speak to your attorney as to whether that's a possibility, b/c they could harass him/her and run up fees for which you would theoretically be responsible.

Seriously, I had a bit of trouble following the activity on the deeds, but this could be a complex situation, and when litigation is threatened, it's best not to muddy the waters with conversations, e-mails or texts that could be misconstrued...or deleted.

Let your attorney handle EVERYTHING that requires communication with the family.

If you really want to reply, write a response, then either tear it up or delete it.
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Reply to GardenArtist
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Good advice. I figured the less said to either of them the better. Even though I would like to reply to the email I figured it was better not to perpetuate the problem or give them any ammo to use against me in the future. Thank you for taking the time to reply. Much appreciated.
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Reply to Cterry877u
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Your attorney says not to worry about it, so don’t. Document every email and communication from them and their attorney. Even “big shot” attorneys have to follow the Letter of the Law. Communicate only with and through your attorney regarding this. Have no contact with Big Shot, Mom or Sister. Don’t argue or threaten any of them in any way, shape or form. You’re paying your attorney to be your “mouthpiece” in all this, so let him be. Good luck and keep us updated!
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