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My father died in Jan 2015.

My sister moved in with my mother Feb. 2015 to care for her.

In April, 2015 my sister sold her home. She was now mortgage free.

The following month, my mother added my sister on to the Title of her home, which she owned free and clear. Even though the will states that we have equal share of all assets, I live 3000 miles away so my mom thought it made the most sense to just add my sister on.

My mom died in Oct 2015.

My sister still lives there, mortgage-free and rent-free, and has no immediate plans to move out.

I'm ashamed to admit this, but until recently, it had never even occurred to me how much she has been benefiting financially all this time and how much I have been losing. For 2 years, she has not had to pay rent or a mortgage payment.

I believe she should be paying me an amount every month that is half of the fair market rent, which is $1950. And since she should have been paying that to me for the last 2 years, that total should be deducted from her share of the proceeds when the house is sold.

I need to know what the law says about this before I talk to her.

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  • Why didn't you object when her name was added to the title ? I am not sure about the legalities but a lawyer would be your best bet for consultations. – DumbCoder Feb 8 '17 at 10:23
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    keep in mind that some of a typical market value rent covers allowances for times the home is between tenants, repairing damage by tenants, the chances of a tenant just stopping paying rent, and the "ick" of a stranger living in "your" property. None of these apply to your sister. A starting position of "half of market rent" will be interpreted as quite aggressive under the circumstance, won't it? – Kate Gregory Feb 8 '17 at 15:30
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    I assume your sister also provided substantial help to your mother during those 8 months before your mother died, and if she was local, help to both parents over the years. That help, although unquantifiable, should probably be taken into account. Irregardless, I am sorry for your loss. – mkennedy Feb 8 '17 at 15:40
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    In what state is the situation taking place? We have dealt with many situations similar to yours in the past few years and each situation can be tricky. – E.Grossman Jun 23 '17 at 17:02
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    Not a full answer, but it's very unlikely you'll be able to get 2 years of rent for the time that has already passed, considering that you had no contract or agreement whatsoever with regard to rent payment. You can't retroactively charge your sister for something she didn't agree to. You're essentially trying to give her a bill for ~$24,000 for something that she never agreed to pay for! – Nuclear Wang May 9 '18 at 17:43
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You are mistaken. Your sister is entitled to live in the home rent free for as long as she likes.

Title to the house trumps whatever the Will has to say.

If the house was titled in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, then she became the sole owner of the home at your mother's death and the house was not part of the probate estate that passes under the will. This is the more likely possibility, although it isn't possible to know for sure without examining the deed by which your sister took title.

If the house was titled in tenancy in common, then she owns an undivided 50% of the house, and the remainder is divided as set forth in the Will.

Any tenant in common is entitled to use the property rent free.

Any other co-owners of the tenancy in common property can bring a lawsuit to partition the property, and if that is done, the property will be sold at auction and divided in proportion to the interests of the parties in the house (probably 75% to your sister and 25% to you if there are just two of you and the will divides the house equally), with no deduction for the rental value of the time that someone lived there and another owner did not.

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These types of situations can, do and will get very messy and bitter fast. The key question here is actually two basic areas:

  • What’s the legal situation now in terms of what you can actually claim etc? For this you need a lawyer familiar with the local laws.
  • Second, and much more important, is how much you value your relationship with your sister. These types of situations can and do irreparably break families, and you need to think very hard about this element of the situation regardless of what your legal rights are.

Personally I would err towards probing gently into what she thinks is fair/your mother intended etc and go from there, with the emphasis on extreme caution. Money can always be replaced. Families can’t.