Jackson, MI asked in Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Michigan

Q: My mother in law bought us a house. Now she wants us to pay her back...

She says to find a house within $65k budget. We did, and there was cash to spare. So she gave us the rest of the money. During the process she kept saying she didn’t want to be part of it because it’s our house and as long as we stay within budget it’s not her business.

We had been struggling financially so it seemed like a godsend.

Fast forward to us moving in the house. Suddenly she wants to talk payback. We thought it was a gift because she had received a large inheritance and it hadn’t been talked about until right then.

So she kept talking different amounts, time periods, and it kept changing. We have paid her back sporadically but now she wants us to basically pay a mortgage on her home for her. The home we bought is paid off.

Honestly, we don’t have the means to pay her back. Now she’s threatening to go to a lawyer and take our house way.

She’s not in any documents and hasn’t done anything tax wise. She’s harassing us alot.

Can she? We have no idea what our rights are

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2 Lawyer Answers
Bruce Alexander Minnick
Bruce Alexander Minnick

A: Your mother-in-law has no rights to the property unless her name is on the deed; but that does not mean she will not sue you claiming otherwise.

David Soble
David Soble
  • Farmington Hills, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: How unfortunate. If the intent was to give the money a gift, then generally speaking it will be considered a gift. Absent any documentation to the contrary - any promises or contracts as they relate to real estate must be in writing (Statute of Frauds).

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