Riverside Realtor Blog - Alma Dizon

Alma shares her experiences and observations as a Realtor in Riverside California.

Friday, June 30, 2006

One house to leave

I've seen this happen several times. An elderly parent dies and leaves the family home to various adult children, some or all of whom haven't gotten along with any of the others. To some degree, the children feel that the parent loved them after all. Then the fighting starts.

One of the siblings has actually physically cared for that parent and perhaps some other elderly relatives, and s/he is angry with the others for not helping out or even visiting. The other siblings feel that this one has managed to live rent-free for years. All have debts that need paying off, and the house is suddenly worth more than anyone dreamed of. The other siblings deliver an ultimatum to the one still at home: either buy them out or sell off and divide the profits.

At the height of the market, I've seen the caregiver forced to take out an insane loan for a house that is falling apart as no one had the wherewithall to keep it up while grandma or grandpa was dying. The other siblings took their share of the money and then promptly had to pay federal and state income taxes on it. The one sibling now has become a slave to a mortgage without any cash to fix up a property that is losing value in a stalling market. The others have perhaps lost perhaps half of what they sought to gain. No one is really happy.

While many parents want to love all of their children equally, it may be a good idea for them to sit down and figure out the greater need and even the greater merit ahead of time. Accusations will fly no matter what, so they might as well see to it now that the one who actually takes care of the sick and elderly doesn't end up homeless or in debt. Another possibility is to sell while the parents are still able and to put the money toward senior care with anything left over going into a trust fund for grandchildren and/or other minors.

Lastly, give your children your love, rather than debt and jealousy. All I want from my parents is memories and perhaps some of their photo albums.

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