Thursday, May 10, 2007

SOMETIMES ANSWERS COME TO YOU LATER.

At least, that seems to be the case here. I am talking about recent issues in dealing with my family situation. To bring you up to speed, since my dad died in February, I have been very irritable and short tempered with a lot of people. I could blame some of it on the grief process, but truthfully, I have never gone through a period of time this long where I was just mad at everyone and everything. I avoided as long as possible dealing with taking care of his household items, mainly because first, no one else seemed to be interested in disposing of these items. No one came forward to offer except my one sister, and her schedule and mine aren't ever on the same page, so things weren't working there. Finally, she started e-mailing the others in the family, and finally sent me an e-mail indicating that everyone wanted to go to dad's just to look around and maybe get something from his house.

I suspected my one sister's motives, since she is extremely greedy and always wants things for nothing. I told my sister Deb who I am closest to that I didn't trust her, but Deb thought she was being sincere. Deb, too, was starting to get on my nerves about the whole thing, because even though we all will be getting a substantial amount of money from my dad's estate, she wanted to scavenge the house for things--a mattress, pieces of furniture, etc.--all things of value that either we could sell or where I had to question the need for these items at all.

The other major problem has been my bad brother. My brother had been taking advantage of my dad all the years he lived in the house that my brother "allowed" him to put on his land. My brother refused to ever deed the property to my dad because he figured he'd never get it back, and this was going to be for his "retirement," a nice investment he could sell or rent out at his discretion. But in addition to his receiving the house upon my dad's death, which was never specifically put in writing by the way--I know, big mistake--he had been draining my dad (and his wife's family too) of money for several years, mainly to always get his own house out of foreclosure. Over a 6 year span, my brother scammed my dad out of nearly $50,000--all to get his house out of foreclosure year after year. So apparently, my brother never made a house payment or paid his taxes? Does he work? Does his wife work? Yes to all. And what did they do with all their money? Who knows. When my dad finally told him he wasn't giving him any more money, my brother started treating him worse than usual, meaning he ignored him if my dad stopped at his house, meaning he wouldn't do anything my dad might need help doing, like shoveling snow off his porch, or showing him how to use his DVD player, or just simply getting him a newspaper on Sundays. Simple things, but my brother refused. He admitted it later, but I already knew. And so did my dad.

So I have built up a lot of anger at my brother over the years, and when my dad died, it all spilled out. What I dreaded more than just going through my dad's house and disposing of things was dealing with my brother over his "debt to the family" as he called it and the disposition of the house. I was still angry that my brother hadn't deeded the land to my dad, because I knew it would have eliminated all the problems I knew we would have.

We finally had a family meeting at my dad's a few weeks ago, and as I suspected, the vultures came out full force. The greedy sister showed up with a truck to load up on all the free stuff she could get, and after a while I just wanted to beat her. I kept telling her that I felt we should sell anything of major value--either to someone in the family at a reduced cost, or on e-bay or however and split the money. No, she wasn't interested in buying anything. She, as my dad's daughter, had a right to have what she wanted (her words). My feeling on the whole thing, knowing she would be this way, was that we should have an appraisal done, put a price on everything, and if a family member wanted to buy it before it was offered at a public sale, they could have it for a reduced cost. But I met so much opposition from everyone that I finally gave up on that battle. The only thing I held firm on was my dad's car. Greedy sister, naturally, wanted that too, but no way did she think she should have to buy it. So let's get this straight: you want something with a value of about $18,000 for you--because you're dad's daughter--and my good brother can have a crockpot? That's almost how ludicrous it was getting.

But to continue with the saga, we started learning how many shady dealings my bad brother was involved in, along with his serious drinking and drug problem. Trying to avoid losing his house to a tax sale last year, he got in with a guy who is known around the area for preying on people in his predicament, who buys up foreclosures and near foreclosures because of back taxes owing. Then he sells back the property to the homeowner, at usually double the amount they owed before. For example, my brother's house payment went from close to $1000 a month to $2000 with this land contract (info according to his wife). And things were starting to come to a head apparently when my dad died, because my brother once again was in trouble with his land contract, hadn't paid taxes on the property my dad's house was on in 3 years, and those taxes were on the verge of tax sale as well.

He came to me just before I left for my vacation in Tucson and said he desperately needed money to pay the 2004 taxes (its 2007, remember?), and would I be able to give him some money from dad's money for this? My brother always had the idea my dad had loads of money at his disposal whenever he wanted it. I told him then that I had a funeral bill to pay and other final bills to pay and the money was dwindling, and also until the car was sold, I would have to make payments on that. But he was going to start a second job "in a couple of weeks" and would have money for the rest of the amount if I could just pay $500. I agreed finally and reluctantly, but in my mind, I was just going to add that to his bill.

The family was mulling over some sort of plan to give him a chance to pay back his debt, in that we would rent out the house for however long it took for that debt to be repaid. We figured it would be at least 5 years, if not longer, and that too was leaving me with a lot of sleepless nights. That meant I would have to be dealing with this for at least another 5 years, and I knew I didn't want to have to worry about that. It meant having to deal with him too, and I knew I couldn't stand that thought.

Fast forward a few more weeks and I get a call from bad brother about needing more money to pay the next tax installment because he hadn't started that second job yet. I somewhat believed that because our weather during this time was horrible, and since it was a construction job, I figured things had been delayed because of the weather. So I reluctantly and again stupidly agreed to another $500, but was angry about it and angry at myself that he had come around again. I was starting to seriously worry about this becoming a steady habit of his, and again went through a lot of anger and frustration issues--and now I was starting to take it out on him.

On May 1, I got two voice messages from him again, asking if I "remembered to pay the rest of that tax bill." Uh no, actually I hadn't remembered, and this time had no intention of doing it. I ignored his calls. Last weekend, I decided to go to the house by myself (and my daughter) to get away from the other vultures who never wanted to come and pack up things, just pick through things. We didn't even get out of the car when my sister-in-law approached me and to get to the point, she wanted to rent my dad's house as soon as possible because she wanted to leave my brother, but wouldn't file for divorce so he didn't have to pay child support, etc., etc., and etc. For an hour we had to discuss this issue, and the bottom line was, even though I had talked to my brother that I felt we needed to rent the place for no less than $900 a month, she could only afford $600 and what did I think of that? OMG, here we go again. When I told my sister this, she blew a stack, and that's when the ball started rolling on everything my brother was up to because my sister-in-law finally started talking. And did she give us an earfull!

We found out that my brother needed to get the taxes paid up on dad's house property so he could take out a loan on it and pay up his delinquent payments on his own house. The money he was getting for the loan was coming from a friend of the guy who bought his house. Starting to see the pattern here? Not only that, there was a whole lot of other crap out there going on--bad checks he had written; past due payments on every credit card they have, etc. Dealing with either of them was starting to sound way too risky for me. So I told my sisters that the only way I would do any business, even as a family LLC or LLP, would be if he signed the property over to us and allowed us to rent the place without his involvement until the debt was paid, at which time we would transfer the title back to him and be done with the whole mess. I figured he probably wouldn't live that long, or would be in jail. They agreed, and we began preparation of a deed and agreement that was more to his advantage than anything else he would be offered--but we weren't giving him any more cash.

His wife presented this to him and he refused. Flat out refused. No way. He wanted the money.

So, today is the day of a secret mission. After more debating, it was mutually agreed by me and my other two sisters that we would go to my dad's house, clear it out entirely, turn off the power, get the car from the garage, take all the expensive machinery, and sell everything we could, leaving my brother with the house to do with what he wanted. We figure within a year he will be kicked out of his house and this will be the only place he will have to go anyway, so I guess we're still doing him a favor.

Once we started putting this plan in motion, we all started feeling better and I actually slept through the night last night.

5 comments:

Phoenix said...

Yikes. Sorry to hear you're going through so much with your family. Family fights are the worst fights.

I'm sending good vibes your way with hopes that your solution brings you peace.

TriFeist said...

I don't know what to say other than, I'll send positive vibes your way. The entire situation is so stressful.

Nancy Toby said...

Whew! That does sound extremely stressful. It sounds like you're handling it as well as anyone could. Take good care of yourself and cut your losses!!!

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

What a mess! I think you and sisters are doing the best you can do under the circumstances.

My MIL went through a similar issue when her unmarried brother died ... ended up with an ugly court battle started by a few greedy and lazy relatives. What a shame.

Flo said...

Wow, what a mess!!! Hope everything went okay. You need to fill us in on the outcome :)