Q: My sister and I inherited a townhome when our father died last year. A Realtor has estimated the current value to be about $160,000, with no mortgage on the property. The will stated that we each get half of the property.
The townhome has been for sale on and off since April 2009. We’ve had three contracts on it but all have fallen through because the buyers really did not have the money.
My problem is that my sister refuses to pay any of the expenses for the townhome and will not sign a contract with a real estate agency even after saying that she would. I am currently paying for insurance, homeowner association (HOA) fees, and any repairs that are needed.
She says she cannot afford to pay for these expenses, but she just bought a brand new car for $30,000.
Is there any way that I can collect from her what she owes on the property? She has had me caller blocked from both of her phones. I keep meticulous records and can account for every penny. Thank you for any help you can give me.
A: This often happens when multiple people inherit the same property: one person winds up paying the expenses and managing the property until it can be sold, and the other person fights tooth and nail, usually because he or she has an emotional attachment to the property or the person who passed away.
Unfortunately, it’s tough to sell property these days, and having someone fight you every step of the way doesn’t make it any easier.
Regarding your expenses, you can submit a list of the expenses you have paid on behalf of the property when it finally sells. These can be submitted to the title company as part of the expenses that have to be paid (like the commission, title fees, attorney fees, and other closing costs) before the property can close. The expenses should be paid out of the proceeds before the remaining money is divided between the two of you.
Your best move now is to consult with a real estate attorney. If the property is still in your father’s name, the executor of your father’s estate can handle the costs and the sale. If you are the executor, you can handle these affairs, sell the property and then split the proceeds from the sale after deducting all of the expenses relating to the home since your father’s death.
You can have the real estate attorney sit down and discuss the matter with your sister, but if she won’t listen to you – you’ll have to handle it the old fashioned way, in court. You can file a lawsuit to force her to sell the property. I hope for your sake it doesn’t come to that.
Now that your father has died, your sister’s bad behavior is making a difficult situation worse. It would be awful if this turned into a permanent estrangement. I hope that once you do find a buyer for the property, she comes around.