Sale of mother’s house, split with sibling

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Sale of mother’s house, split with sibling

This is a most complicated situation. I lived with my mother for several years after divorce and paid her monthly rent for years. At one point she needed to consolidate debt and do some home renovations. I also asked if I could include paying off some of my own debt and rolled the amount of the HELOC into this. I continued to pay my mother monthly rent plus additional money towards my portion of my debt that was put against the house. My sister and I both got put onto the house deed should my mother end up in a nursing home and we wanted to make the 5-year look back period so Medicaid did not take the house. My mother was to leave the house to us. Lo and behold, my mother did end up needing to go into a skilled nursing for long term care and remains there today at age 92. I then had to refinance the HELOC plus also got another HELOC because of other repairs needed. I was then fully responsible for making the payments myself. I continued to live there and paid taxes, mortgages and home insurance. It is a life estate deed. My mother is still living. However, because my daughter moved out she was paying me a monthly rent I can no longer afford to live there and pay taxes. So the house is getting sold. My sister is expecting to get half of the net proceeds after my mother still gets her small percentage. However, herein lies my big question, do I need to pay my sister the portion of my personal debt that went against the house. By this time, 3 years, I feel that I have already paid it back since I was making the monthly payments approximately $12,000. Her argument is that I had the luxury of living in the house and she did not. I am willing to make some sort of settlement, but on the other hand I have been paying for 3 years for everything and she has not contributed any payments to the house loan.

Asked on April 10, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you and your sister are equally on the deed, then she gets an equal share of the proceeds. That you made monthly payments is irrelevant to that, since you voluntarily choose to do this (you could have refused and allowed the home to be foreclosed; or only done so if your sister contributed equally). You cannot use your voluntary choice to assume those costs as a reason to deprive your sister of the share of the proceeds she is entitled to as an equal owner. Only if she had agreed in writing in advance to let you have a larger share if you made these payments would you be entitled to more money than her. Further, your sister does have a point: your payments were not charity or gifts to your mother, but were for your own benefit to, since they enabled you to have a place to live. The   law would look at the payments you made as having been made for your benefit.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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