The names of the characters have been changed to protect the innocent …
Mom died in 1992. Two weeks before she died she said I will leave the duplex (1/2 duplex) to you, my son, but you have to promise to let Joe live there as long as he wants. Mom and Joe had been living together for about 9 years so of course I was willing to honor her wishes. I assumed she would repeat this request in her Will just to make it legal.
My wife and I had owned the duplex since 1978. We bought another house (1980) and kept the duplex as revenue property. We rented it out for a few years and then when dad died we asked mom to move in. It would be beneficial for both of us and mom really did not want to stay in the family home by herself. Mom paid us a reasonable rent for about 3 years.
After Joe moved in with her, according to mom, Joe indicated that he did not like the idea of her paying me rent. Mom finally asked us to sell her the duplex. We did so. We sold it to her for a dollar. What else could a son do?
When mom died she named one of Joe’s son’s Executor of her Will. Mom had left all her possessions including the duplex to Joe. While this surprised me I did nothing about it as I thought I would certainly see some of the equity my wife and I and mom had built up in the property when Joe dies.
The alternative would have been to contest my mom’s Will and what son would ever consider that? I loved mom and left it at that.
Joe died recently (2011) and I found out that the duplex had already been sold to a friend (about a year earlier as Joe was moved to a nursing home) and that there was no Will. There was just a bank account with $235,000 in trust.
So I contacted the son who had had Power of Attorney over Joe, as to what was going to happen with the estate. He said he would call a lawyer and would see what needed to be done.
I also called a lawyer and found out that I have no legal rights to Joe’s estate.
The son finally returned my calls and gave me the number of the lawyer he and his brother had consulted.
I acknowledged the fact that I may not have any legal claims to the estate but that between my ex, my mom and I we had in fact contributed close to half the equity in the duplex and if not legally at least morally my ex and I should be entitled to some of the estate.
The son said that the estate was going to be divided between himself, his brother and a half-sister. So much for doing the right thing; I pleaded our case but to no avail.
I can through land titles searches prove that the ownership of the property was in our family name for 13 or 14 years but according to the law this means nothing. Hard to fight the law. My lawyer said as much even though she had sympathy to my case but she could not offer any solutions, legally. She agreed that morally the son’s should share the money from the estate but could not provide any legal remedy.
That is why I am writing this … I want others to learn from my mistakes.
I should have contested mom’s Will and had I, I would at least have been able to put a caveat on the property to attest to my entitlement to some part of the equity in the duplex. How much I don’t know and the lawyer could not say but at least I would have a fighting chance to get something.
As it stands I get zip … nada … nothing because the boys know I do not have any legal claim.
By the way I have spoken to my ex and was prepared to share any equity I may get out of the estate with her equally. That would only be fair as she too contributed to that equity. Unfortunately that is a moot point as it seems that neither of us will get anything.
Our loss could be someone else’s gain … if you should ever find yourself in this kind of situation ...
Forewarned is forearmed …..
comments may be forwarded to
dance at natran dot ca
A Cautionary Tale ...
... Wills and Estates