Probate – Siblings Can’t Agree

What do you do when siblings cannot agree to sell a house in probate.

For the last eight months I worked with a brother and sister in the sale of their inherited property.  I buy houses. That is my business. The two are estranged from each other. I don’t know when the divide occurred.  But her boyfriend is a major thorn in his side. If the boyfriend wants to do A the brother says NO. But he never offers an alternative so things just stop.

Her side is that he lived in the inherited house for years paying no taxes, no insurance and no utilities. She is tired of his freeloading and wants him out so they can sell the house in probate and she can recoup her money.  She has some dental and medical issues she want to take care of with her share. The good news is since its been more than two years since the last parent passed they can go to a Summary Administration for probate and not be concerned about any creditors.

The house looks like a hoarder house from Halloween. There are spider webs hanging in every corner of the house.  There is stuff stacked up five feet high in nearly every room.  (The brother says all that stuff is his sister’s.)  The kitchen is a wreck.  One shower has no dry wall behind the faucets.  Needs everything from the roof on down. After months of haggling the sister finally signed a purchase agreement.  The brother then became a ghost. No response to emails, text or voice mail. So the offer expired.

When the brother finally responded he had moved out.  Seems the sister turned off the utilities.  If he had been a tenant that would have been illegal. But since he is a co-owner of an inherited house he’ll have to get the utilities turned back on in his name.

He basically said he doesn’t want his sister to get any money from the house.  That would be the civil wording.  So the house sits deteriorating more by the day.  The City has slapped a code enforcement lien on the property.  So whatever money they would have split on the sale is now being reduced on a daily basis.  I sent the brother an email appealing to logic as to why he should sign a new agreement since the City is now involved.  He became a ghost again.

Hard to believe that two people who stand to get a substantial check  for the sale of an inherited asset that neither of them is using cannot put aside their differences  long enough to get the money they both need.   At this point, unless the impasse can be broken, the house will go to a tax deed sale in two years due to unpaid taxes.  Until that happens the Code Enforcement fines will continue to accrue.  By the time it reaches the courthouse steps there will be no value left in the house.

Here is the kicker. If she starts the probate process and can produce documents showing she paid the taxes, insurance and utilities while her brother lived in the house for free she can petition the probate court to force the sale of the inherited house to recover her expenses. If successful the cost of her expenses would be deducted from her brothers share of the proceeds in the probate case. The sale can then be completed.

Although you hate to drag family into probate court, one sibling can file suit against the other to force the sale of the house in probate. Just get your paperwork together to support your case.

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