Q: My husband and I bought a mobile home on a rented lot and moved my oldest daughter into it.

We bought the home as investment property and paid cash so there is no mortgage.

At the time we bought it, the mobile home park owners said the home had to be titled in the name of the occupant. So, we put the mobile home in the name of our daughter.

Now it has to be sold and she thinks she is going to pocket the proceeds because it is in her name. How the heck can we prove we paid for it? We had money orders drawn up in her name to pay for it and there is no paper trail that we paid for it.

A: When it comes to parents, children and cash, sometimes blood is a lot thinner than water.

Sadly, without some sort of paper trail, you are left to watch your daughter exhibit the kind of behavior parents hate to see in their children.

Only you and she know the truth about the purchase of the mobile home but without any documentation at all between you and your daughter, she may be legally free to keep the proceeds from the sale.

I’m not sure I understand why the mobile home park owner insisted the mobile home be listed in the name of the person who lives there. But that being the case, you should have signed an agreement with your daughter that spelled out the ownership arrangement.

Or, you could have sold the mobile home to your daughter, allowing her to pay you over time, as if you were the lender. That would have been acceptable way to document the transaction. When she sold the mobile home, you would then have had a lien on the proceeds and received your money that way.

Instead, you relied on your relationship – as so many parents would in your case.

To the extent you have other assets that may one day be passed on to your daughter, one thing you may be able to do is threaten to withhold a portion of her inheritance from your estate equal to the amount of the sales price of the mobile home plus any cash you put into it during the time she lived there, including utilities and maintenance.

The thought of being excluded from your estate might be enough to turn her around. But let this be a lesson – this daughter is not to be trusted when it comes to money.

For more details on your legal options, you should consult with an attorney.

Published: Sep 18, 2005