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Mom passed away late last year, my nephew and his family were living in my mothers house to "take care of it" (i.e. Caretaker). It took over six months to get them out of her house, but now (I assume) they are living with my brother, his wife, her kids and his other child (eight others total). When I was finally able to inspect the house, they left tons of junk and three door frames now need repair because they have been sprung from forced entry. The neighbors indicate that they had lots of fights/arguments and are so glad that they are gone. Needless to say, my entire summer has been consumed with getting the property back up to its original condition so that it can be sold. Unfortunately I had to take six weeks off to recover from an injury I incurred while working on the house.


The major problem I now have is my sibling and his bad attitude. Seems he "likes to p*ss me off" per his wife and has done so by taking possessions that I had wanted and now has drained/closed the joint account that we both had with mom. These funds were being used to hire help (i.e. haul junk away, paint the entire interior of the house and contractors/handymen to fix damages). I have kept all receipts and records of when, where and who was paid for each job, now my brother has undermined me by taking the funds I had earmarked for finishing up the work, anticipating and planning with my realtor to place the home on "the market" in October.


Here is where my current problem lies. My brother is on the deed to the house with me (mom had a life estate & we are now the sole deed holders). He has done absolutely nothing to clean up or fix up the house. I have seen him "drive by" on occasion while I was there working, but he is non-responsive to anything I try to do to "reason with him" about this house. I have consulted with my attorney, spoke with the realtor and even had a conversation with his wife. When we were still on speaking terms he indicated to me that his doctor was ordering some additional tests because they suspected that he had "early onset Alzheimer's" (he's in his mid 50's) or some other neuro-degenerative disease. I really, really don't want to go to court about something that seems so logical. Is it possible that if he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia that this unreasonable behavior is one of his symptoms? It seems that his anger is directed towards me, yet I am the one who took care of mom for her last ten years with us. I visited her, celebrated birthdays/mother's day etc. with her and although he lived closer to mom than I, he would not visit unless I asked him to come "celebrate" with us. I know that mom had difficulty remembering who he was, but how was that my fault? I really don't understand why he is being so vindictive towards me when all I want to do is release "US" from the responsibilities of keeping up another house and having a little extra cash in our bank accounts when everything is settled.


My attorney has advised me to have a conversation with my brother and explain to him that going to court is expensive and in the long run, both of us will lose a good chunk of the profits from the sale of the house to court costs and legal fees. This is the worst conundrum I have ever had to deal with and makes the ten years of taking care of mom fond memories. Oh how I wish mom & dad were here to help! Any suggestions are welcomed!!

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I hate to be blunt, but quit reasoning with a whimpering sibling and take him to court, cut your loses and move on. I say this as I may be gearing up for a similar episode with a (freeloading) sibling. Thankfully legal is on my side, but my lawyer did say sibling could be a momentary disrupter.
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Reply to ArtMom58
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Why don't you just sell the house as is and split the profits with your brother as directed by the deed? Court costs can escalate so easily. If you get a lawyer, you will have to pay fees anyway and that expense will come out of your pocket. Just sell the house, take your share and be done with it. Your brother has problems that you will not be able to solve and fighting over the house will just add additonal stress to you both.
You did well well taking care of your Mom. You will have always have the satisfaction of knowing how great you cared for her and during that time you also included your brother which is an axtra kudo to you. It is time for you to pamper yourself now! Good luck!
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Reply to Elderchamp
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Sometimes there is no making sense of a sibling's anger toward you. Sometimes it's based on some perceived childhood wrong or jealousy. My oldest brother told me he was angry and bitter towards me because it was so unfair our father let me play middle school sports and be in several choral groups during high school. My father immediately spoke up and told him he couldn't play sports because he didn't have the grades the school required, that it wasn't a decision he (Dad) got to make.

My brother is more than a decade older than me with a higher IQ during school years but like many gifted students didn't consistently make good grades - report cards filled with As-Ds in any one term. I also had inconsistent grades in elementary school but never worse than one C in any one term. By middle school I developed enough discipline to make the straight As. Dad never made a big deal of our grades as long as they were at least Cs. I didn't get anymore praise for the straight A reporting periods than for the ones with Bs and a C. Dad did get on my brother when he made Ds and Fs and limited some of his privileges until his grades improved, like a boy scout trip. My brother also got into some trouble for minor misbehavior/pranks at school. Because I had good grades and didn't get into any trouble I was allowed to do just about anything I wanted - played sports, went on church youth and school trips, etc. I was so much younger I asked brother #2 and some cousins if our parents were tougher on brother #1 than other parents were being a their kids with similar issues - no one seems to think so.

Brother #2 told me a I shouldn't listen to much brother #1 has to say because he cooked his brain on some of the drugs he took in his 20s (during the 70s). I'm not sure how much of that is valid but I do think he has some long standing mental/emotional problems. I can see how he has some justification for thinking our parents treated me "so different" but I don't understand (1) how that could be _my_ fault, our parents were the decision makers; and (2) how he doesn't accept any responsibility for the impact his own behavior/choices make on our parents' decisions. Brother #2 is just 14 months younger than brother #1; he also got to play sports because he always had decent grades too. But brother #1 is not angry about brother #2 having privileges he didn't - just me.

Like your experience, this bitterness really came out and impacted care giving for our parents. I'm expecting it to make a mess with settling any estate too. I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that I cannot really understand my brother's feelings and reasoning. I accept it's a problem that has no solution. I try to limit our contact as much as possible so to not aggravate his anger, use defensive measures to protect myself and our parents only where really needed, and to be as courteous and kind as I can possibly be when we do interact.
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Reply to TNtechie
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disgustedtoo Sep 16, 2018
TNtechie;
I was #2 child, actually was the first birthday present for #1. #3 was much younger than me. While growing up, I was the target of his (#1) physical and verbal abuse. As we got older, this diminished some as we were doing our own things with our own friends. After college, marriage, etc, we were never really "together" - living far apart, get together once in a while for family gathering, etc. So, this nasty behavior was apparently "gone".

Fast forward to getting mom into a safe place and cleaning out the condo to rent/sell. He came up to help a few times in 2 years, staying for 1-2 weeks (bulk of the work, excluding moving furniture, really fell on me, plus being primary contact, doctor appointments, most visits, SS, pension, finances, trust, coordinating major repairs needed, etc fell on my plate.) Sometimes he became a bit testy during these "trips", but I (unfortunately) chalked it up to stress, trying to get more done than we had time for, etc. His last "visit" to help was in May. The plan was to stay at my place for the 2 weeks and we would work on clean up/fix up together. He could visit mom as well during down time, as condo was a hike, mom is 15 min away. He lasted from Sunday afternoon to Friday evening. He got mad as hell over stupid things (an hour or day later it was like it never happened when these "incidents" occurred.) That evening he crossed the room and threw me to the floor, twice, bruising my ankle badly and hurting my leg. I told him to get the F out of my house and he will NEVER be welcome back! During his time "packing" he kept coming back and throwing verbal insults at me. He showed up with stuff from mom's place Mon, Tues and Wed, but I refused to acknowledge he was there or let him in. He'd sit out there, no call, no text, just sit out there for an hour+ and then leave the stuff. Sure, I'm going to welcome THAT back in... NOPE!

I realize now this is WHO HE IS and ALWAYS has been. I did check with his daughter, to find out what the deal was with his first divorce (we heard almost nothing - sounds like maybe this is what happened then too! We will never know as sadly she passed away after some surgery many years later.) However, his daughter told me that he's done similar to her, even as a late teen and young adult! I was aware of how he treated her as a child when they or we were visiting (5yo, his tone of voice AND what he said to her was totally inappropriate - I suspect she grew up with this crap all the time!)

So consider your brother is who he is, tread lightly around him (if you really have to be around him), or do like I did - no contact. Forget the high IQ business - it really means very little... Ted Kaczynski (unabomber) was considered some kind of genius, yet what did that get him? People can be all kinds of "smart" but not have a clue or waste their talents just floating along on that "smartness"! Although drugs could play a role, it sounds like this predates the possible drug years.

FWIW I actually spent some time looking up sibling abuse after the incident in May. Not rivalry, ABUSE! It is a real thing, and although they say it has not really been studied as well as it should, they indicate that sibling abuse is more rampant than any other abuse! The problem is too many people (parents included) chalk it up to sibling rivalry or "boys being boys"... The behavior is typically not evident when parents are around, so they tend not to put much credence in anything reported by a child. That does NOT explain someone who drives a fist into a sleeping sibling's stomach in the middle of the night, does it?

No, do not second guess yourself about him. HE is the problem. Keep on with that limited contact or better yet NO contact. In our case, he lives 2 days drive away, is not likely to visit mom again (while here he went twice and refused to go again because "he didn't know what to do with her."), so it is not like he'd come here to see her!
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Let it all go. It's not worth it. Sell the house as is, take whatever profit you get out of the sale and move on with your life. What's more important? Your sanity or the riff that has built up between your brother and yourself? You will have a happier life if you give up control and move on to better things that will make you happier because you would be free of the whole mess.
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Reply to tperri123
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Keep track of everything you are paying out of pocket. When the house sells you get paid out prior to any division of the proceeds.

My brother is younger, and sat on important paperwork that he had to sign as Dad's POA since February. There was a March deadline for the paperwork to be completed without huge ($100K plus) penalties. He signed it on Labour Day weekend. He will be covering the penalties and interest out of his share of the estate when it is finally settled. I will not be out of pocket because he was unwilling to do his job.
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Reply to Tothill
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You said you and your brother are “on the deed” but that can mean several things. If you both were on there with Mom, then you will have to open Probate to even be able to sell the property. That will require an attorney. Be prepared for brother to tell you “no” to Probate. That means a legal hearing to appoint an Administrator, who gets paid by the way. I have an EXACT scenario going on right now in my family.
If by chance the house had already been deeded over to you and brother with no one else on the deed, if it is 50/50 you still won’t be able to sell without his cooperation. You will then have to “sue “ him in Court to ask for a forced sale based on your lopsided financial burdens for the house.
Either way, DO NOT put another penny in the house. It might be all for naught.
One other possible option , if you and your brother are the only people on the Deed, is to pay for a professional Market Value Appraisal and then make a formal, offer , in writing, to your brother to buy his half out.
All of the above require legal services by an experienced Probate Law attorney.
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Reply to BigjimM
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suiee7005 Sep 16, 2018
If house is life estate then no probate is necessary since it is an automatic transfer upon death ..the attorney that will handle closing when house is sold will take care of the deed
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Legally, being a co-owner (which is how Mom left her house to you and your brother in a life estate), you cannot sell the house without your brothers consent and signature on all real estate documents pertaining to the sell.
You should NOT spend your personal money on the house or property because you may not be able to get your money back at the time of sell because you did not have your brothers written permission to do so even if you have all the receipts. Always protect yourself personally and financially.
I am so sorry you are having such a hard time with your brother. Sometimes a death of a parent does bring out feelings & anger of siblings that we often cannot explain or understand. Just try to remember all the good times you had with your Mom and know you did what was good for her. You may never be able to resolve this problem with your brother and you may watch the house fall apart but he still won't agree to sell. At some point you may have to simply walk away.
I wish you well with your brother & the house.
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Reply to GrammyO
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I don't really understand how these things work in probate. Is there someone "in charge"? Having receipts for everything you've paid for won't do you any good unless there is someone to adjudicate. If you are equally empowered with him, you will have to, as others have said, legally buy him our or quit claim to him. I don't know how that works. But people empty accounts all the time. There are many posts on this board about similar injustices. Protect yourself. Don't expect to get anything much. Your mother set you up for this by having you both on the deed and allowing him to (somehow) have access to those accounts. This is her consequence but it results in it dumping on you, so just try to minimize your exposure and protect your health. You will NOT get out of this without hard feelings from your brother. It sounds as if there is no reasoning with him any longer. So I would agree with others that you need to get some good legal advice and get ready to close the door to that side of the family once this is over. I agree also for you to put no more money in this. It's not a family home any longer. It's not a memory. It's business. Sell it and move on.

When my mother died over 20 years ago, I was executor of her trust and had to sell the house right away to pay off the over $70,000 in credit card debt (in 1997 dollars!) that she had accumulated as she paid for my brother's living expenses. The house had been allowed to become a disaster as she could not afford even minimal maintenance as she put her retirement money, too, toward helping him. (She was a complete enabler.) She would have been fine financially if it weren't for supporting him and his family.

So I sold the place ASAP and had to split the remaining proceeds with him 50/50. Was it fair? No. Did I have any legal recourse? No. The way I looked at it then is how I look at it now. If the house had burned to the ground and everything in it had been destroyed, I would not have gotten a thing. So anything I got out of it was better than nothing. "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." That's all you can do.
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Reply to Maryjann
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Minimize the opportunity for drama and insults by communicating primarily through text and email. When all correspondence is "on the record," this will streamline this painful and arduous experience.
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Reply to MJB214
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Partition. (1) Find yourself a good property attorney, ie one who specializes in Real Estate. (2) Visit your local lender to get pre qualified for a reasonable amount to buy him out. (3) File for Partition.
Do not back down. Most of these cases are settled along the way. Your siblings will be forced to respond and either accept an offer from you for their undevided interest, or as you said, lose a lot of the value to court costs. The court will either divide the property— splitting it geographically or sell to highest bidder.
Either way, you will be rid of this low-life relationship.
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