Family Property Dispute

17 Replies

Hi all,

Not sure if this topic is at the right forum. Please forgive me if not. 

Currently, my sister and brother are claiming that they own part of my house. Two years ago, my father passed away, and he uses to live with me at my house. Many years ago, my father gave me money for half the down payment for the mortgage. My father didn't say that he is lending me the money, he just gave it to me and didn't put his name on the loan or the deed of the house. Now, my siblings claim that my father owns half the house and demand that I sell the house and give them half the money. My father didn't leave a will and we already split his bank account three ways after he passed. I don't know how to deal with my siblings making these new demands two years later. They also claim that my father helps me purchase another investment property oversea, which 10x in value and my father didn't give me any money for that purchase, and demand money for that too. What should I do about this? 

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Originally posted by @Louis W.:

Hi all,

Not sure if this topic is at the right forum. Please forgive me if not. 

Currently, my sister and brother are claiming that they own part of my house. Two years ago, my father passed away, and he uses to live with me at my house. Many years ago, my father gave me money for half the down payment for the mortgage. My father didn't say that he is lending me the money, he just gave it to me and didn't put his name on the loan or the deed of the house. Now, my siblings claim that my father owns half the house and demand that I sell the house and give them half the money. My father didn't leave a will and we already split his bank account three ways after he passed. I don't know how to deal with my siblings making these new demands two years later. They also claim that my father helps me purchase another investment property oversea, which 10x in value and my father didn't give me any money for that purchase, and demand money for that too. What should I do about this? 

Don't laugh it off completely. Your siblings could bring up a frivolous lawsuit against you and keep you entangled in the system until a judge finally dismisses it. You need to seek an attorney.  Yes that means digging deep in your pocket and spending your money to defend yourself in court or to at least to guidance and advice. 

If you're not a good records keeper, then START.  Gather all documentation concerning both your purchases. The fact that your underwriter/lender didn't recognize your father as a co-borrower should be more than enough to shut it down.  BUT anyone can bring up a lawsuit at any time for anything.  In the meantime make sure all taxes and insurance remain paid up.  Finally you can counter-sue your siblings for cost of your legal bills when they lose the case and always WATCH your back with your siblings.  Even if they lose if they went this far they will try again with something else.


@Louis W.

Did your father file a gift tax return for the money he gave you for the down payment?

Not saying whether or not you need it because I'm not an attorney, but it would quickly put to rest the allegation that the money was a loan or investment and not a gift.

Thanks for the reply everyone. Very Helpful.

I forgot to mention this extra piece of information. My house is duplex and my brother lives in the other units. He promised me to pay $1000 a month after my father passed, but he never paid me a penny and claim that he owns that unit now. I prefer him to neither pay me rent or leave, so I rent it at the market rate of $2500. I already willing to rent it for only $1000 to him so he won't be homeless. What should I do?

@Louis W. Go to the recorder of deeds and get the name of everybody that owns the house. If it’s just your name as you know it is and evict your siblings you gotta become heartless family will and can bring you down. Retain money for a lawyer and it better be deep but overall keep your sanity and know that they are the freeloaders looking for a hand out I treat family like I treat tenants at a arms length.. it’s always business you gotta look out for yourself.

It's never easy when family is involved.  I think you better get a lawyer involved.  Sounds like they are after your money.  Although I highly doubt with the facts presented any sane lawyer would actually defend their case.

Thanks, everyone. I think they got no case, but I am not sure about evicting my brother yet. I got a lot of relatives in the Bay Area. If I evict my brother to the street, I will look pretty bad, but the mortgage and house insurance are coming out of my pocket with zero rent and cash flow to pay for it. 

It's just a matter of time before someone files a petition for probate (Notice of Petition to Administer Estate)

If your siblings do then you can final a "Amended" Notice of Petition to Administer Estate. Sort of a competing petition for probate against the primary probate case. (This is not legal advise only a thought)

Average home prices in the Bay Area are $1.2 ~ $1.3 million. If the home is indeed in San Francisco good luck with the eviction process. The city is tenant friendly...

@Louis W.

Allegedly, your brother is living in your rental and refusing to pay you rent, while he and your sister are attempting to extort you after the death of your father...and you're worried you'll look bad in front of your relatives if you evict your brother?

It may be wiser to not rent to friends and family after you get this all sorted out.  A property management company might be advisable too.

@Louis W. -  Sorry this is happening....  I'd get the estate lawyer involved and reference the will.  Who is the house deeded to currently?  Who was named successor of his assets and obligations at death?  They can demand anything, but you only have to listen to the law.

@Louis W. So sorry to hear this. 

Now, with your brother leaving in the house, that is a little tough. 

From a legal perspective, it will be hard for your siblings to have a leg to stand on. Have you tried to involve other family members such as your mother or father's siblings to come to talk some sense into them?

Alternatively, you can simply give them the downpayment your Dad gave you, keep your property, and call it a day...

@Michael Ablan

How much money did he give you towards the down payment? Perhaps you do the lawyer thing meaning show all paperwork from the purchase, state down payment amount from father. Show whom the property is titled to. Get copy of will etc. Request the lawyer make the call with legal explanation off the facts. No you do not own a third of my duplex it’s mine and you’ll just be causing family trouble and spending lots of money to be proved wrong.

Then MAYBE offer a third of your fathers down payment he gave to you to each of you’re siblings so the freeloader can move somewhere else. Cause you are not responsible for free rent.

@Louis W.    Based on what I'm reading you can easily argue that the property is completely yours. Your name is the name on the deed of the property, not your brother and sister.     You had a verbal agreement with your father and you fulfilled it.  

Now your brother (and sister) are absolutely squatting on the property, but they have been there for over 30 days....even though you may not have a written agreement,....they still have the same entitlements as a paying tenant with a written agreement that's been there more than 30 days. I dealt with this before at a place I have here in Oakland, by the way. Serve them a 30 day notice, now. The cops, attorneys, etc...will do absolutely nothing until they know you have served them the 30 day notice to leave AND that 30 days has already passed....After 30 days if they don't move out....time to get an attorney and go through the rest of the process.

Be vewy, vewy kareful! If duplex is in San Francisco it’s most likely under rent control. You can’t easily evict your brother on your own. If he’s not paying rent, you’ll need a good lawyer knowledgeable in SF’s clusterf*ck of tenant laws. And you’ll probably end up settling out of court. So he’ll most likely get some $$ from you, but at least not half the property. Renting way below market rent to *anyone* in SF is a bad idea shoot-yourself-in-foot move. If you “informally” attempt to  get him out on your own somehow, the situation is ripe for a wrongful eviction countersuit, and then he could get a six figure settlement. I wouldn’t f*ck around with this, as your brother sounds desperate, and slightly douchy too. Good luck!