Q: My mother owns 20+ acres in a neighboring county. Several years ago, my brother and his wife fenced in the land and put horses on it and use the barn that is on the land.

When my mother dies the land is to be divided between my brother and me.

Can my brother and his wife claim the land as theirs because they used it for a number of years and have horses on it?

A: I don’t think so. If they used the land with your mother’s permission, they don’t have a right to claim the home as their own, according to a real estate attorney I talked to. They also must have not only used the land exclusively for up to 21 years without letting your mother have the use or access to it. And they would also have had to have paid all of the expenses on the land. You should talk to a real estate attorney to get more details.

The fact that you’re asking the question, however, makes me think you’ve got bigger issues you have to deal with. You, your mother and your brother should sit down and talk about this piece of property, what it is worth and what your mother intends to do with it after she passes.

You sound like you have trust issues with your brother. If that’s the case, after your mother dies, it could be all-out war. That’s a tough spot to be in. You could lose all of your family at once.

I urge you to sit down soon and talk this through with everyone. If you’re worried about the conversation escalating, perhaps invite an estate attorney to sit down with you to answer everyone’s questions.