I am not sure where my question falls.
I received this from one of my siblings yesterday.
After talking with our siblings and the lawyer, and after having the house appraised – we have decided that a fair price for the house to you will be $85,000. The estate will not pay for any of the repairs to the house.
This decision was brought about with the realization that the house, which should have generated between $150,000 to $200,000 for the estate, suffered a great loss of value due to the neglect of you, D and Mom. Essentially, this ten year stretch when maintenance was totally absent resulted in the loss to the estate of about $80,000 – or a loss of $20,000 to each of us. We know that Mom asked you to have the repairs done and to send the bills to her. This was not done – so now all of us will have to absorb the loss.
You have a choice, you can take the house for $85,000 and pay for the repairs. If you and D do some of the work yourselves, you will come out with a house worth much more than the money you will have to contribute. If you decide not to take the house, the estate will sell it for what we can get and the proceeds will go back to the estate. You and D will have to move as soon as possible so that we can have the house cleaned etc.
Please let us know your decision as soon as possible.
In the will, it states in B&W, the house is MINE. Your thoughts?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Any attorney would have to review the will. In addition, an attorney would have to know what debts or claims there are against the estate.
If there are claims against the estate then the executor has the power to sell the house. The beneficiary cannot inherit property without paying any claims against the estate.
If, however, there is enough other assets in the estate to pay off these claims, then I am not sure why the estate would be obligated to sell the house to you or to make the repairs. The beneficiary inherits the house as is.
There is something key that is missing here - why would you be receiving a letter like this if, as you claim, the will clearly provides for you to inherit the home? Why would the estate bother to state that it is not liable for any repairs?
If I were you, I would take a copy of the will and make a copy of the estate file (including any inventory and list of claims) and have this reviewed by a probate attorney who practices in the county/state where the estate is pending. Pay the lawyer to review the file.
As you can tell from Ms Hunter's answer, this could be complicated.
First, did the person who wrote the will (the Testator) own the house alone (no joint tenancy, no co-owners)? This may require a title search.
Second, has the will been duly admitted to probate (i.e., has the probate court accepted it as valid)? If not, a probate proceeding should be started.
Third, does the estate have enough other assets to pay all claims against the estate without selling the house? Answering this may require examination of the probate file, and possibly a proceeding to demand an accounting.
If all of these are "yes", then you have the right to demand that the executor deed the house to you, as is, but the estate has no duty of repair, unless the issue arose after the death of the testator.