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My step mother is suing my sisters and I for $64000 for the

My step mother is suing...
My step mother is suing my sister's and I for $64000 for the morgage and repair on the home she shared with our father. He passed 13 years ago and we are not on the morgage only on the deed. is this possible and if so, how?
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
5/14/2013
Thomas McJD
Thomas McJD, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6,516
Experience: Real Estate Attorney
Verified

TMcJD :

Hi, I will be happy to assist you, and it is my goal to make you a very satisfied customer! This may take a few minutes, so thanks for your patience.

TMcJD :

Is she also on the deed? If so, does she own a tenant in common interest with you and your sisters or does she own a life estate?

Customer:

hello, first yes she too is on the deed but that's the jist of all the information i have on the subject. we do not and have not spoken with thislady since the day of my father's funeral. this is sudden an out of the blue. i didn't even know there was a deed let alone that i/we were on it!

TMcJD :

Okay. Please understand that I can only base my answer on the information I have. The less information I have -- the less detail I can provide. Please also know that if the facts turn out different than those assumed, the law that applies could be different (or the result could be different).

TMcJD :

When more than one person owns property (i.e. there are multiple owners on title to the property), then all owners are liable for taxes, insurance, upkeep to the property, etc. according to their percentage or fractional ownership. Thus, even if you're not on the mortgage, you and you sisters are legally liable for those debts along with your step mother. If your step mother has paid those debts, then you would be liable to reimburse her for expenditures she has incurred (she would be responsible for her own share).

TMcJD :

Of course, she would also be liable to you and your sisters to compensate you for her use of the home.

TMcJD :

For example, if a reasonable monthly rent is $1,000 and there are 4 owners with 1 living in the property, then the 1 living there would pay the other owners $750 and those 3 other owners would split that $750. Thus, your step-mother would have to also compensate you and your sisters for having used the property for x number of years.

TMcJD :

Of course, if your step-mother is only a life estate holder and not a tenant in common, then that changes everything. She would be liable for upkeep, taxes, etc.

TMcJD :

But you can't know how she owns title without seeing the document that actually creates the ownership in her, you, and your siblings.

TMcJD :

Since you really don't know enough information at this point, I would suggest retaining an attorney in the county where the property is located so that the attorney could represent you and your sisters and take a close look at the matter (I assume that her lawsuit is filed in the same county - if not, your attorney should be in the county where the lawsuit is filed).

TMcJD :

www.martindale.com is a good website to use for locating an attorney. You could also contact the bar association of the state where the lawsuit is pending and ask for a referral.

TMcJD :

I'm sorry you're having to deal with this situation completely out of the blue and I'm sorry I cannot provide any solid information -- but I just don't know enough of the facts to assist you with anything very specific. Nonetheless, the information I have provided will get you started in the right direction.

TMcJD :

Of course, please let me know if I can provide additional information or clarification. Thanks.

Customer:

ok so basically we have to get an attorney for something totally out of our control?

TMcJD :

Unfortunately, yes, but I think you may find you have quite a few rights as well that will protect you from her whimsy.

TMcJD :

It's just not possible to know without finding out specific details about her ownership interest and your ownership interests.

Customer:

oh my word! can we request the paperwork from her attorney since she started all this mess in the first place!

TMcJD :

You can -- they should have that information.

TMcJD :

Something isn't quite right though because you and your sisters should have received notice years ago if you did indeed take an interest in your father's property. You should have known about that if things had been done properly.

Customer:

words can not express the anger i'm feeling right now! can't she just buy me off the deed? i know that may sound strange but i don't want any portion of that house nor do i want to just GIVE her what my father obviously wanted his kids to have! they have no children together but she has an only son from a previous relationship.

TMcJD :

Yes, she can certainly offer to buy you out - but her payment may be that she not seek to continue the action against you. In fact, that may be her end goal. Again, I'm terribly sorry you're going through this -- I see clients go through this sort of thing more often than I care to think and it's stressful, heart breaking, and just nearly criminal. I feel for you.

Customer:

BINGO! that's precicesly what i told my sister's! i think she just wants us all off so she can get 100% of the profits off the sale of the home which by the way is barely worth $123000... IF THAT!

TMcJD :

Yeah, that is the most likely thing -- just after more than what she's justly entitled to, but it would cost a lot of money (and take a lot of time) to fight her.

TMcJD :

I wish I had better news. Sorry that I don't.

TMcJD :

Please let me know if I can provide additional help.

TMcJD :

If not, I would be grateful if you could please leave me a positive rating for my time assisting you. I cannot receive compensation for my work without your positive rating and that is the sole means by which JustAnswer experts are compensated. Thanks.

TMcJD :

Are you still there?

Customer:

most of what she's sueing us for is mortgage

TMcJD :

Yes, and as noted, she has a claim because all owners are liable, but you all also have claims against her for compensation your were not paid because you couldn't use the property -- the two overlap and cancel each other out to some extent.

TMcJD :

Again, I would be grateful for a positive rating unless you need additional assistance first.

Customer:

yes i am

Customer:

we can not afford to retain an attorney right now even with my sister's. especially since if i'm understanding you correctly, this could drag out indefinantely!

TMcJD :

Yes, it could drag out quite a bit. You could offer to settle without an attorney and see where that goes.

Thomas McJD
Thomas McJD, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6,516
Experience: Real Estate Attorney
Verified
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Satisfied Customers: 6,516
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