San Francisco, CA asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Tax Law for Hawaii

Q: I inherited 50% of a property as tenant in common 6 years ago. I never lived there. Do I owe money to current occupant?

Sibling was executor of our mothers' estate and moved his family in immediately after she died. I never received a deed. I lived out of state with my husband at the time. There is no tenants agreement. Sibling unable to buy me out at that time. I did not ask for compensation for him and his family to use the entire home and he never asked me to pay half of the expenses. He and his family of 4 have been the sole occupants of the 3 bedroom house. 6 years and 2 refinances with cash out later a Heloc with a lien against the house was used to pay of the mortgage. The property now has nearly double the debt it had when he initially moved his family in. We are planning to sell the property and he now wants me to pay him for 1/2 of the expenses retroactively (mortgage, renovations, tax, etc..) from the time he moved in and 1/2 the current debt.

1 Lawyer Answer
Nina Whitehurst
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: If you did not sign the note for the current debt, then you are not personally liable on it. If you did not sign the mortgage that secures the current debt, then your share of the property is not liable for the current debt either.

If your sibling insists that you pay for half of the expenses retroactively, then you should be (and are) entitled to insist that your sibling pay rent for half of the property retroactively, and keep in mind that the renovations would presumably increase the rental value. Most likely your sibling will back off when he/she realizes that paying "just" the expenses is cheaper than rent.

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