What is included in a person’s estate regarding real property that they co-owned as a tenant in common?

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What is included in a person’s estate regarding real property that they co-owned as a tenant in common?

My wife and her mother went in on 214 acres of land. The mother made the down payment of $28,000. My wife has paid all insurance, all taxes, and at least 80% of each monthly payment. The mom died late last year and my wife’s 4 siblings inherited the moms share of the land. They say if we buy their share from them we have to pay them the fair market value plus the $28,000 the mom made for the down payment. They claim “it’s her equity.” Who is right here, my wife or her siblings?

Asked on August 17, 2011 Missouri

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the problems that have ensued.  What your wife needs to do is to gather all the information that pertains to her payments on the land over the time that she has owned it with her mother.  She needs to also show what the payments her Mother was supposed to make but did not. For example:  Mortgage payment:  $1000.  Mom's payment $200;  My payment  $800.  Credit to me:  $300.   Taxes:  $500.  Mom's Payment: $0;  My payment $500;  Credit to me:  $250.  And so on.  Then she needs to add things up.  Make it like a ledger for each month/year and present it to the Executor as a claim against the estate.  Really your wife's obligation for the down payment was $14,000 so you can subtract that from the money owed her.  Let's say that she has paid out $34,000 over the years.  Minus the $14,000 she owes the estate comes to $20,000 owed to her. Now, she is to get 1/5th of the house outright.   So now lets say the house is worth $200,000 (after mortgages paid off) just for sake of the numbers here.   Her share if sold is $40,000.  So deduct the $40,000 from the $200,000 and she would only have to pay $160,000.  Minus the $20,000 owed to her she would only have to pay $140,000 for the house.  This is how I see it.  Ask an accountant or estate attorney in your area.  Good luck.


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