# My brother wants my Mom to sign her house over to him.

## Main Question or Discussion Point

Pfff. I don't even understand what "signing a house" over means. I thought that when our parents die, it would be sold and the proceeds distributed evenly. Or something like that. But he is quite a character. I think he sold me my car illegally, for starters. He's had trouble with the law, is on a third wife, and generally likes to start pissing contests with his little brother over things that never matter.

Anyway, I told her she should talk to a lawyer. But if anyone here understands this signing over stuff or what options she could explore, I'd appreciate the info. She's in her seventies and has been preparing for her death. Not something I wanna go over, but since my brother is on it now, I want to make sure she'll be okay.

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Borg
Gold Member
Pfff. I don't even understand what "signing a house" over means. I thought that when our parents die, it would be sold and the proceeds distributed evenly. Or something like that. But he is quite a character. I think he sold me my car illegally, for starters. He's had trouble with the law, is on a third wife, and generally likes to start pissing contests with his little brother over things that never matter.

Anyway, I told her she should talk to a lawyer. But if anyone here understands this signing over stuff or what options she could explore, I'd appreciate the info. She's in her seventies and has been preparing for her death. Not something I wanna go over, but since my brother is on it now, I want to make sure she'll be okay.
If she signs it over to him, he can kick her out and sell it. With the way that you describe him, it sounds like that would be an option for him. If she wants to prepare for her death, she should instead have a revokable living trust with someone other than him as the executor.

I know I put him in a nasty light, but he would never kick her out. He could, however, make some mistakes in that case, how he handles legal matters and what.

A revocable living trust. I'll pass that on to her. I will also try to encourage her to call a lawyer.

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Pfff. I don't even understand what "signing a house" over means. I thought that when our parents die, it would be sold and the proceeds distributed evenly. Or something like that. But he is quite a character. I think he sold me my car illegally, for starters. He's had trouble with the law, is on a third wife, and generally likes to start pissing contests with his little brother over things that never matter.

Anyway, I told her she should talk to a lawyer. But if anyone here understands this signing over stuff or what options she could explore, I'd appreciate the info. She's in her seventies and has been preparing for her death. Not something I wanna go over, but since my brother is on it now, I want to make sure she'll be okay.
That would normally mean transfer of ownership from the owner, your mom, to the brother, who could evict the mom and sell the property or keep it as his own.

Unless the property (and estate) are assigned to someone in a will, it would be handled by a probate court, which may not have the interests of family members in mind.

Your mom should consult a trustworth lawyer. One can look into family or real estate trusts.

I do not understand why she would do that? Is she to ill to take care of her own estate?

That would normally mean transfer of ownership from the owner, your mom, to the brother, who could evict the mom and sell the property or keep it as his own.

Unless the property (and estate) are assigned to someone in a will, it would be handled by a probate court, which may not have the interests of family members in mind.

Your mom should consult a trustworth lawyer. One can look into family or real estate trusts.
Yep, yep, and yep.

Also, he would have the right to sell the house at any time (e.g., before or after Mom dies) and keep all the proceeds himself.

Or perhaps the brother is thinking he can get away with avoiding taxes if the house isn't a part of the estate? That is, perhaps he imagines he can get the house today so that he won't have to pay any taxes on it if/when it sells after her death? If this is the case, then he's forgetting that he would have to pay taxes on the house today
since signing the house over to him would be a taxable asset transfer.

Either way, the guy sounds like scum. Don't let your mom do it.

Borek
Mentor
Apart from what may happen to your Mom, unless there is a specific reason why he should inherit the house, once he is the owner, you are robbed of your part. Sure, in theory he can sell the house and give you your part.

Something very similar happened in my family (not directly to me, but close enough). My advice is - no.

turbo
Gold Member
My father went to a lawyer. He arranged to have his estate divided equally between all us kids, and we all have equal title to his property. I have the paperwork in the safe.

I would be extremely hesitant to allow a parent to "sign over" property to only one of their heirs, regardless of what kinds of promises that heir might make. Newai, you really need to get your mother to hire a decent lawyer to arrange for the orderly and fair disposition of her property. She should also have a living will laying out her choices in the case that she is medically incapacitated and is unable to make her wishes known. My wife and I have made our wishes known in living wills, and we each have wills with our own preferences stated for the disposition of our assets.

I know a woman who got screwed by her sister in a similar circumstance. The real worries come after your Mother passes away. Then, all bets are off. Your brother may keep the house, or sell it and keep the proceeds for himself. I don't mean to cast him in such a bad light, but only an extremely ethical person can be trusted in such a case. Even average reasonable people have a way of justifying bad actions to themselves once large amounts of money are involved. As an example, the woman I'm referring to above (who screwed her own sister) was a Catholic Nun in her early years, but left that calling later in life.

cristo
Staff Emeritus
You should definitely have her consult a lawyer and draw up a will. Over here, the only real benefit I can see of signing over your estate while you're still alive is that your kids avoid paying inheritance tax (if you live for >7 years after making the gift). There's all sorts of technicalities, though, and unless you're incredibly wealthy I'm not sure it really makes any sense.

In your circumstances, it seems doubly important for her to sort out a will since, from the way you describe your brother, it'll be a nightmare if your mother dies will-less.

MATLABdude
If the house is paid off (in part or in whole), he could also take out a mortgage on it, or use it as collateral in a (different sort of) loan. Does he have money problems? If he gains ownership, gets a mortgage / loan, and fails to make payments, your mom could be out (and him also, if he lives with her).

Many signs point to 'no'--figure out why he wants the house, and get some proper legal / tax advice.

Over here, the only real benefit I can see of signing over your estate while you're still alive is that your kids avoid paying inheritance tax (if you live for >7 years after making the gift).
Even if he tries to avoid inheritance tax in the future, he'd still have to pay taxes now upon receiving title to the house since the house is most likely valued at over the current $13,000 gift limit. cristo Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Even if he tries to avoid inheritance tax in the future, he'd still have to pay taxes now upon receiving title to the house since the house is most likely valued at over the current$13,000 gift limit.
I should have specified, I live in the UK where laws are likely different.

I should have specified, I live in the UK where laws are likely different.
Cool. I must have missed that tidbit.

Thanks, everyone. I will encourage her to talk to a lawyer.

Then I'll have dinner with my brother.

Borg
Gold Member
Thanks, everyone. I will encourage her to talk to a lawyer.

Then I'll have dinner with my brother.
Encourage her to look at this thread if she has any doubts.

he may be trying to keep the estate in the family. if she ends up in a nursing home, the first thing they will do is take the house.

you need to find out what is going on, how legal it is, etc.

DaveC426913
Gold Member
he may be trying to keep the estate in the family.
He may also be trying to keep it from his little brother. And he'll be successful.

He may also be trying to keep it from his little brother. And he'll be successful.
she could sign it over to both of them, then.

DaveC426913
Gold Member
she could sign it over to both of them, then.
That is what I would advise, yes.

Oh! There are four of us kids all together, so that's interesting it could be signed over to more than just him.

he may be trying to keep the estate in the family. if she ends up in a nursing home, the first thing they will do is take the house.
If the mom enters a nursing home with the expectation that Medicare is going to pay for it, the first thing Medicare will do is review her finances for the past few years; specifically, they're going to look to see if any asset transfers have occurred. The "look back" period is somewhere between 3 and 7 years (I don't actually remember off the top of my head). If they've found any significant asset transfers, including a house, they can refuse to pay for the nursing home.

Borek
Mentor
Oh! There are four of us kids all together, so that's interesting it could be signed over to more than just him.
Talk to other two then.

rhody
Gold Member
Newai,

Here is a post I made awhile ago in Lisab's thread: Has Anyone Ever Been An Executor Of Estate? I think it is worth repeating here, so I cut and pasted part of it for you:

I was executor to my Mom's small home, I did an on-line will had it notarized and witnessed in her home state, the terms were very straightforward since I was the only child and my Dad had already passed. When she passed, you need to get a personal representative document with a tax id (with you as personal representative) from the state where she passed. You will need a death certificate, and Original Will to present to the clerk of the court to be assigned as personal representative.

You can do this yourself, but I had a lawyer do it for me, there are a number of steps you need to take and every state may have unique requirements for what is required. The bottom line is it takes 3 to 6 weeks between the time you apply and when the document is signed by a judge and returned to you. My case was simple as far as the money aspect went, my Mom owed no bills and a probate notice was placed in the local newspaper once or twice a month for three months. Mom's medicare bill was huge but absorbed by medicare. If you do get small bills from credit cards, we are not talking thousands here, a simple written note to the creditor's explaining you are not responsible for their debts with a copy of the death certificate is sufficient. You only have 90 days to view either parent's medicare account online after death and once it is closed it can be a pain to reconcile bills so keep that in mind.

A second more expensive way to go is with a trust, there are many types, and my wife's family used an irrevocable trust. This costs more and my financial advisor and tax attorney need to be involved. I would only recommend a trust if there are considerable assets to shelter. To date, we have had no negative issues to report so it was worth it and assets after death are NOT subject to probate, or haggling by people not named in it, it is secret and can never be disclosed, unless you choose to do so. One more thing, if there are other siblings and even if you have a will, any sibling who feels so inclined can contest it, and it can take 2 years or more to dispute in court and even then there are no guarantee's. If your parents assets exceed the states inheritance limit and you DO NOT establish a trust, then they are taxable when you liquidate them, you must pay the tax, Here in RI I think the limit is 850,000 and if there total net worth is one dollar over the limit, then the entire amount is taxable !!! However, if you have a trust, set up properly, that is NOT an issue, something to think about, You need to find out what if any inheritance laws exist in the state where your parents have the full time residence. Many people here have second homes in other states and list them as their primary residence to avoid the inheritance tax. There are rules of proof I won't get into here, but you need to be aware of them, ignorance is NO excuse.

If bad blood runs in your family, or the value of their total assets become taxable at death, then a trust is the only way to go. If your parent's wish, they can designate who gets what and if other siblings are locked out, they can NEVER see it. A will on the other hand is public record, siblings, relatives, creditors and real estate people, thieves can and do look them up and do, so be aware. Many peoples vacant homes are robbed this way.

I hope this helps, and it may raise other questions that your financial advisor or attorney can address in greater detail. I would advise take your time, consider your options carefully and ask probing questions. BTW, I don't know what country you live in so what I have said here applies in the US. Good luck. It can seem overwhelming, but take it step by step and you should be fine. Your case is more complex than mine because I believe you said there are three other siblings involved including your troublesome brother. I am an only child so everything was easy.

Rhody...

P.S. I just checked your profile and it says you live in the US so my comments do apply, sorry for not cross checking before posting.

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Newai, your profile says you're in the US, but even then, aspects of probate and death are dealt with differently in each state (AFAIK).

As for signing it over, there are so many aspects to this that can bite those involved in the *** and leave long standing issues, disputes and broken relationships.

My sister and I handled our father's probate after he died. These things are not something you trust to just one person, even if they have had some experience. Even with the best intentions, it can be go badly.

The only time I've ever heard of a happy result from signing over property on that basis was when it was to a sole child. When other siblings have been involved, in every story I have ever heard (and I've heard a few) there was never a happy outcome.