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The Moneyist: My sister took care of our mother and father and saved her $ 80,000 financial savings once they died. Now she desires to stay rent-free in her home

Before my mother died, she left all of her money to my father: insurance policy, pension, cash, etc. She named me as the second beneficiary with clear instructions that the money should go to the family. The pension would be shared equally among my sisters.

My father died two years later. My sister was the executor of his estate. She felt that as an executor, she was entitled to all of her financial assets, which amounted to approximately $ 80,000.

Neither of us are wealthy, but since my sister lived with my parents for about eight years before she died, we did not dispute her claims. She cooked, cleaned, and went back and forth to see the doctor. Thank goodness they were reasonably healthy. However, my father was bedridden for about four months before he died.

My parents owned a two-story building. My sister lived with my parents in an apartment that was rent-free because of their assistance, and their daughter lived on the second floor. My parents told my niece that as long as she was attending school, she did not have to pay rent. She graduated and became a nurse and started contributing by paying light and gas bills, etc.

No rent

The property was left to all siblings (four sisters and three brothers). My sister and her daughter want to live in the property, but they don't want to pay rent or even set up a maintenance fund for emergencies. They said they were ready to sign documents stating that as long as they lived on the property they would be financially responsible if something happened.

This regulation is of no use to anyone but them. My sister said she felt entitled because she looked after our parents and we all have a house.

My siblings feel that my parents helped them and their child for years. Not only did they not pay rent for about 10 years or more, but they spent more than half their rent on a car, so it was a give and take.

Torn

Because of this, my family is torn apart. My sister doesn't talk to her siblings. I have my own personal feelings, but I am willing to ignore things that I think are not right to get along with.

However, my brother and I are executors and do not want to be financially liable if my sister fails to pay or support. Originally we all wanted to keep the property, but since we can't come to an agreement, we want to sell. My sister wants to stay rent-free for two years.

I need a third party to assess the situation so that my niece and sister know that the family is not being unreasonable. I also want legal advice because I think they should pay a small fee to live there. Nobody (none of us) is allowed to live in vain. They say the property is out of date so they shouldn't be charged market rents or other rents.

Please help.

One of the sisters

Dear sister,

Meet them halfway – or somewhere in between. Discuss with your siblings that they can stay for six months to a year before you prepare to sell.

Ask them to sign an agreement that will be overseen by your lawyer. If she refuses, the deal is off. Your sister lived with her parents rent-free and as an unpaid carer. There she could work, study and plan for the future. It wasn't a completely selfless act. And there's nothing wrong with that. Tell her that you appreciate everything she's done, but it's time to end the process.

Instead of splitting the $ 80,000, you generously teamed up and allowed her to keep it. That money was part of your parents' estate and should have been divided equally. With this money, she can look for another apartment. But taking that money and asking (or asking) it to stay rent-free makes me think two years will be three and more. I suspect you will never be able to do enough.

Don't set yourself an impossible task. Your sister will believe that you and your siblings are either sensible or unreasonable. Allow her to do that and accept it. You have to do what you think is right and leave your sister and daughter to make up their own mind. Your sister may hold a grudge, but you have no control over her emotional life. However, you can hire a lawyer to deal with your parents' estate respectfully and, if possible, without loud voices.

Disagreements over heredity often tear families apart when there are already significant rifts in family relationships. People tend to act or react in similar ways in many different scenarios throughout their lives. The death of the parents removes the one fixed presence that kept you all connected. Add in money, a home, heartache, and a variety of historical ills, both recognized and unacknowledged, and you have a great gap of your own.

If your parents wanted your sister to inherit their house, they would have included it in her will. It is time to let go of the drama and heightened emotions. It's a storm and it will last as long as you partake in it. Similarly, trying to rationalize your sister's bizarre interpretation of the law only leads you into wider circles. Do what you have to do. Call a family reunion. Give her a red line deadline and move on.

You can email The Moneyist with financial and ethical issues related to the coronavirus to qfottrell@marketwatch.com and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

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