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Need advice on an unfortunate family situation

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Smiley0884, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. Smiley0884

    Smiley0884 Well-Known Member

    So...this is pretty much the worst time of year to be going through family drama, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to come on FSU to see if anyone had some objective advice to give....

    Basically my Aunt is about to lose her house because she tried to dodge paying her property taxes for ages. She asked my father to co-sign a loan for her so she could keep her house. My father said no, which I think he was well within his rights to do so considering my Aunt's history of financial instability and conning other family members out of money. The fact that my Father declined to co-sign angered my Grandmother to the point where she is now sending threatening letters to my parents. My parents have had a strained relationship with my Grandmother for the past 20 years, partly because my Aunt and my Father don't see eye to eye on a lot of things, and he's constantly calling her out on her leeching off of and conning other family members. This woman is so vile she used her own sons social security number to get a credit card and basically trashed his credit. For some reason my Grandmother refuses to acknowledge any of my Aunt's wrong doings, and expects other family members come to her rescue. She can do no wrong, but for some reason my father is the eville bad guy for thinking of preserving his credit and thinking of having to pay for my sisters college education.

    Ideally my parents should just cut off all communications with my Aunt and Grandmother, but there's a big honking catch-22. My parents purchased their house jointly with my grand parents. My grandfather passed away years ago, but legally half of their house belongs to my grandmother.

    My parents are good people, but they aren't exactly the brightest bulbs. They never should have purchased a house with someone who had proven themselves to be manipulative, calculating, and deceitful, just because that person happens to be your mother/MIL.

    On one hand I feel for my parents because they do a lot for my grandmother despite the strained relationship. But on the other hand I really want them to stop crying about being the victims of my Grandmother/Aunt's perpetual drama and take action!

    I know my parents basically need to not own a house with my Grandmother anymore. I figure the steps they could take would be to either buy out her portion of the house, or to sell the house split the money with her and start over. Does that make sense to anyone? If they tried to buy her out could she refuse? Would they have to take her to court if she refused both options? I don't know much about this subject but I know that my parents need to take some sort of action if they want to live in peace.

    Any advice/thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
  2. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

    Your parents should absolutely not aid your aunt. Your father has made his own family now, which should come first. Your aunt is adult. She has to take consequences like an adult. They have no obligation, moral or otherwise, to help this woman. My experience has been when dealing with people like your grandmother and aunt, if your parents give in, they won't be grateful, and they'll just expect more in the future. It's worse than a vampire.

    As for the rest, your parents need to see a good real estate attorney.
  3. rjblue

    rjblue Having a great day!

    It's sad for them if your grandmother chooses this destructive woman over them, but it is her making the choice, not them. They will feel bad, but should not feel guilty. And yes, they should take her to court, if necessary, and it sounds like it might be.

    And if they are always crying to you about it, and yet not taking any action, I'd tell them that you would rather focus on positive things when you are with them, and change the subject.
  4. escaflowne9282

    escaflowne9282 Reformed Manspreader

    THIS x 1,000,000!

    "you must spread some Reputation around before giving it to Matryeshka again"

    Damn that witty ass-skittles comment!
  5. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

    Of course she could refuse to sell, but then your parents can serve her with a partition suit. That will a) cost money and b) piss your grandmother off to no end and will probably completely destroy the relationship and your father can probably forget about any sort of inheritance from her later on.

    Sounds like your grandmother and her daughter are in a co-dependent relationship. Don't even try figuring it out or else you'll make yourself crazy.

    Tell your parents to call a lawyer!
  6. TygerTyger

    TygerTyger Well-Known Member

    Yes, and to bring all "threatening letters" with them.
  7. skatemommy

    skatemommy Well-Known Member

    Is grandma's (and or grandpa's) name on the deed to the house? Is there still money owed on the house in all names? In that case, you need to refinance or sell to get her off the deed. I doubt she would sign a quit claim deed which would get her off the property but not a loan.
  8. CynicElle

    CynicElle Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry. I have no idea why this dynamic -- "Screwup child gets chance after chance while the responsible child gets raked over the coals, especially if they don't want to help the screwup" -- seems to play out so much in troubled families, but it's not the first time I've seen this happen.

    I don't have any useful legal advice about the real estate situation but I do agree that anything your parents can do to extricate themselves from that situation is a good thing.

    And your father was 100% right not to cosign a loan for your aunt. He'd be throwing his money and his credit rating away.

    Good luck to you and your parents.
  9. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

    We've not crossed the "you must help her" bridge. But the general attitude my parents-in-law tend to have regarding their screwed up daughter and completely together son has been stated to my husband more than once in words.

    "You can take care of yourself; your sister can't".

    Not saying it's right. It's just what the mindset becomes for parents.
  10. Smiley0884

    Smiley0884 Well-Known Member

    I don't really know either. Even my cousin (my Aunt's daughter) is on the brink of shutting her out of her life, and refused to co-sign for a loan when she asked her. It's just crazy to me that some how my Father is supposed to be responsible for my Aunt's lack of financial responsibility but it's perfectly fine for my cousin to say no. Not that my cousin should have to co-sign either, but I just think it's ridiculous that my Grandmother is directing all of her anger at my Father.

    Thanks everyone for the advice. I agree the best thing for my parents to do is to sell the house and get rid of my Grandmother. Of course if they do sell it will forever damage my family's relationship with her, but at this point who cares? She's just a toxic person. I doubt my Dad cares about any inheretence, he probably just cares about his sanity at this point. At any rate my Grandmother has drained her life savings helping out my leech of an aunt. So if she had any money in the first place she would have already given it to my aunt so she wouldn't lose her house. It's unfortunate because my parents are just about 5 years away from paying off their mortgage. My Grandparents paid the down payment for the house, but my parents made the monthly mortgage payments for the past 25 years, pay all the utilities and for all household repairs. I think they've been a bit too stubborn the past few years about not selling the house and getting rid of my Grandmother, but at this point they need to take responsibility for their mistake in purchasing a house with her, and just start over/move on. They can still get enough money from their half of the house to put a down payment on another. Sure they would have to take on another mortgage, but that's life. That's being an adult.

    I live 2 hours away from my family and it's getting to the point where I refuse to go back home if this drama continues. I'm going home this weekend because it's christmas, but this will likely be my last visit until the matter is resolved, or at least some action has been taken. I'm just hoping this weekend won't be too intense.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
    Rob and (deleted member) like this.
  11. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum

    Echo what Matry and others said. Definitely consult the real estate lawyer and take all correspondence with them.

    My mother sent my middle brother money and bailed him out of everything until he was in his mid 40s. Finally I told her that she was doing him no favors and she was leaving a legacy of need for me to deal with. She finally cut him off and told him she wouldn't have enough money to last her if she kept bailing him out. Guess what? He got a job with a plumbing company, worked his way up to licensed plumber, then to manager, and now he makes a pot load of money. He saves in his 401(k), he has a nice house, he pays his own bills, and he can even afford luxuries like a Harley Davidson. You never know what people can do until you cut them loose.
    Wiery and (deleted member) like this.
  12. Garden Kitty

    Garden Kitty Tranquillo

    As for the legal issues, I agree with the advice to consult a real estate lawyer in your jurisdiction. As for the financial issue, one of Suze Orman's first financial rules is never co-sign a loan!
  13. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member


    Agree with everything everyone has said. Your father was completely right, in not coming to our aunt's aid. Sounds like she is toxic. Your parents absolutely need to consult a real estate attorney.

    Skatemommy asked a very important question. Is your grandmother's/grandfather's name on the deed/contract? If not, is there a contract stating that the deposit they paid toward the house must be given back at the time the house is sold? If none of those things, your parents may not have a problem with the house. Is the mortgage only in your parent's name? Can they show that the only money your grandparents put toward the house was the down payment? If so, they may be able to pay that back and satisfy any legal obligations they have. I'm not a lawyer, but it would seem that there important questions to be answered and possible situations that would make this less stressful.
  14. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    It sounds to me like you are overly invested in this situation. I don't see anywhere where your parents asked for advice or are interested in selling their house or cutting off ties to his mother. In fact, you say they aren't interested in selling.

    My advice is to stay out of it and not be another person who is pressuring your father to do something he doesn't want to do.
    BigB08822 and (deleted member) like this.
  15. timing

    timing fragrance free

    I'm not sure that is the best thing. You make it sounds like your grandmother's share of the house (whatever amount that might be) could be money she needs to live on in the future. If she was paid for it now then it would likely go to her daughter and she would not have it for her own needs. It could be better, if your parents first finish paying off the mortgage. Once that is done they could buy out your grandmother in a series of payments if that is what they desire.

    Before you offer advice, consider carefully if your parents have asked for any. Sometimes people need to vent without getting advice.
  16. aliceanne

    aliceanne Well-Known Member

    Maybe your parents should just take the first step and tell your grandmother they no longer want to live with her, and ask if they can buy her out or if she would be willing to buy them out. See what kind of reaction they get. If she truly wants to live with them maybe she will wake up, if not, the relationship is over anyway.
  17. Smiley0884

    Smiley0884 Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't consider being concerned about my family's well being "overly invested" but YMMV. That's just my family's culture/dynamic. Sorry if I wasn't specific enough, but my mother calling me every day to hysterically gripe about the situation means she at the very least is seeking advice. Although my Dad rarely mentions the situation unless someone else brings it up. Obviously I'm not a lawyer or a realtor, so the only advice I've given them so far is to get a lawyer so they can take the steps they need to get away from my Grandmother. And yes, my parents *have* considered selling or buying her out. They would rather it not come to that, but it's getting to the point where they need to do something to cut her out of their lives, and that appears to be the only solution.

    If they end up selling the house, spliting the money, and she ends up giving it to my Aunt that's her problem. I'm really just concerned about my parents and sisters at this point. I'm not really concered about my Grandmother's "needs" in this situation, since she doesn't really seem to be concerned with my parents or my sisters.

    My Grandmother's name is on the deed to the house, and yes they can document that they made the mortgage payments, and she made the downpayment.

    Of course it would be ideal to wait until the house is paid off since they are so close, but it's getting to the point where my Father is depressed, his blood pressure is through the roof, and my sister is having panic attacks. They should do whatever they can to rid themselves of her asap.
  18. Smiley0884

    Smiley0884 Well-Known Member

    That's a really good place for them to start. I'm hoping that she'll agree to sell, split the money, and leave it at that. At the moment she's staying at my Aunt's house, and has been for the last month. But many of her belongings still remain at my parent's/her house. Since she's so upset with my parents anyway I'm hoping she'll just want to sell since she's not even staying at the house anyway.
  19. timing

    timing fragrance free

    When looking for a solution think about the what is likely to happen in the future based on the proposed solution. It is quite possible that your grandmother would be happy to be bought out now, to use the money to help her daughter and to live with her daughter. If that could be a stable long term situation it could be good for everyone. If however, the daughter is likely to be in financial troubles again and to end up losing the house, then based on what you have written your grandmother is going to turn to your father again. If he feels it is his responsibility to look after his mother (but not his sister) then she could end up living with him again.

    Best of luck, families can be very stressful.
    Rob and (deleted member) like this.
  20. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

    This sounds like a very difficult and complicated situation, with no easy solution. What is good short term, may be disastrous, long term. It's very sad when families fall apart, like this. (((Smiley0884))), I sincerely hope that you and your family can find some peace in this.
  21. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

    Not to be a hardass realist and not trying to upset you, but however horrible this situation is now I can almost guarantee it would get a thousand times worse if someone in the triangle were to die. If your grandmother were to die your aunt could very well inherit her share of the property and your parents could very well end up going from the frying pan into the fire and get legally entangled with your aunt, anyway. Or not, you just never know how things will work out. Your parents are in a rotten situation no matter what. It's rotten now in the present, and 20 years from now it could be just as rotten. The thing for them to consider is which rotten do they want to extricate themselves from and deal with - the rotten of the present which they know and can somewhat keep control over, or the rotten of the future and all of its unknown variables?
  22. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    So, so true.

    I'm sorry your family is having to deal with this. For the sake of their health, I hope your parents take whatever steps are necessary to get clean title to the house.
  23. Civic

    Civic New Member

    I suspect that many parents fear the child who can't handle adult responsibilities will fall by the wayside if they don't intervene. As you pointed out, it is a common dynamic and it is as old as time. The biblical parable of The Prodigal Son is an early example.
  24. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

    I think there are a lot of parents in these situations who don't want to admit that they had failed as parents and it's threatening to them when their other more balanced children start standing up and saying that things are really fckd up and they're not going to go along with the script anymore. The parents just want everybody to shut up and keep going along with whatever cockamamie family dynamic they've patched together over the years so that they don't have to face the truth about the mess they created. Kind of like our congresspeople.
  25. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

    I don't think the parents can always be blamed. If they are totally at fault, there wouldn't be balanced adult children in the picture at all.
  26. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

    There are some kids who manage to turn out ok despite their parents.

    Since the OP's grandmother is demanding that her son to put himself at major risk for the benefit of his sister, I would say there's something definitely wrong with that parental situation and it's not something that started just recently.
  27. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

    I also think sometimes parents don't see all the negatives that perhaps siblings do. If one child is doing really well, and another child needs a bit of assistance, it's not uncommon for a parent to think if the well-off child lent some help to the other, then both could be doing great. And sometimes that's true.

    But other times the child who needs some assistance is just a hot mess, and nothing short of intensive rehab and therapy will make an impact. But the parent may not see all that because oftentimes the problem child will paint a more rosy picture to the parents. It's the sibling(s) who see just how messed up the situation is. But because that doesn't comport with what the parents see, parents may assume the well-off siblings are simply being greedy instead of having insights to which the parents aren't privy.
  28. Southpaw

    Southpaw Saint Smugpawski

    Sure, there could be that. Siblings definitely have a different perspective on each other than parents have. But it could also be that the parents really aren't comfortable with what the other siblings see because they don't come out looking too good in those versions of the facts. So when a sibling doesn't go along with a parent's version of reality then it's the dissenting child who's suddenly the problem and not the problem child. If the dissenting child would just keep quiet and do what's right and co-sign a loan for the problem child to bail her out of trouble for the five billionth time then there wouldn't be any problems in the family!
    agalisgv and (deleted member) like this.
  29. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

    First, what a terrible situation, and I know they always get worse at this time of year. My only advice is to try to get your parents to at least see a lawyer so they have a clear understanding of where they stand. Just a couple of things that should be clarified:
    What was the percentage of the down payment? If you grandparents only put down 10% then your grandmother may only be entitled to 10% of the sale price after commissions and expenses. What will happen when your grandmother dies? I ask because where I live, any property held in joint ownership doesn't go through probate and goes directly to the other owners, ie, the house would go to your parents and your grandmother could not leave her share to your aunt. Obviously laws vary so your parents should really find out about this.
    Good luck!
  30. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    No, it doesn't mean that at all. Believe me, I've been through this sort of thing with my own family and seen it a million times more. Your parents aren't dumb and they know very well what they need to do. You can jump in and play the rescuer but most of the time the people who are crying about the situation don't actually want to be rescued and they won't take your (very sensible) advice and then you are sucked into the drama too.