The question title may be a bit misleading - it's hard to word my issue. Apologies in advance.


I am 27 and my sister is 23. We stand to inherit a 1500 sq. foot home should anything happen to my mom, who currently owns the home. My mom is nearing 60 years of age.

The issue

My sister and I are like night and day. I completed both a bachelor's and a master's degree debt free, have $100,000+ in savings and got hired out of college as a software developer at a healthy $90,000 starting salary. My sister on the other hand has a long history of psychiatric problems, drug use and promiscuity. She has dropped out of college and has net earnings of < $5,000 annually. She never has more than $20 in her bank account and spends all her money on reiki healing, crystals and all that other pseudoscientific healing garbage. My sister also lives off my mom and has never held a serious job. Psychiatrists have suggested diagnoses of both schizophrenia and/or borderline personality disorder.

I have severe concerns about inheriting a home jointly with someone who is disordered should anything happen to my mom. Myself and my sister get along (usually) however the big issue is that she has nowhere to go should my mom pass away and will refuse to sell the home whereas I want to sell the home as fast as possible such that I do not own a joint venture with her. She does not understand that owning a home doesn't mean one "owns" the home - there is mortgage to pay, property taxes, utilities, etc. In her opinion, this is a conspiracy by Big Brother government to overthrow the public. Inevitably, the home will be lost due non-payment, neglect, among other possibilities.

The question

A question from my mom: Is it possible to re-draft a will such that a third party could sell the home on our behalf? What are the steps involved?

  • Find a lawyer... – BlueDogRanch Apr 22 '19 at 3:23
  • Jurisdiction? What's the proposed role of the third party? – Greendrake Apr 22 '19 at 4:27
  • Oops, I knew I was forgetting something. We are in Vancouver, Canada. The role of the third party would be to sell the home and divide the assets between myself and my sister. My sister herself will not want to sell the home as she will have no where to go (her income level is far too low) however this will ultimately lead to the home being lost due to non-payment, neglect, etc. Myself sharing the home with her is NOT an option: I do not have the training nor the experience to live with someone who has psychosis. – James Apr 22 '19 at 4:34
  • So why won't your mom will 100% to you so that you sell it and buy a separate smaller home for your sister? Would your mom rather trust this job to a third party? But nonetheless, you should look into trusts and talk to a lawyer about it. Trusts are used to solve issues that wills don't. – Greendrake Apr 22 '19 at 4:42
  • Not only my mom, but I would rather trust this to a third party as well. My sister can be manipulative and I don't want to be on the receiving end of threats if I "take the home". I can't stress this enough: my sister is not a normal functional human being - she is prone to extreme rage and has made serious threats against people in the past to the point where she was court ordered to remain institutionalized. – James Apr 22 '19 at 4:48

On this site, this question cannot be given an answer that will solve the issue. But directions as to what to explore/drive at can be given. Having researched these yourself, you will be in a far more equipped position when talking to a lawyer to get things underway.

Direction 1: Trusts

Your issue may not be solvable by a will because what a will does is essentially distribute assets. It simply specifies who gets what of what the deceased owned — as opposed to ordering people to do certain things. The house could certainly be granted to a third party, but there will be no way to oblige that party to sell it and transfer back to you; they could keep it for themselves and you and your sister would get nothing.

A trust (instead of a will) can probably be a solution.

Direction 2: Guardianship of your sister

Mentally ill persons can own property but their ability to decide what to do with it can be taken away by guardianship. So, if someone (you or a third party) obtains guardianship of your sister, she will no longer have a legal say of what to do with the house, but will still remain the beneficiary of her half of it.

  • Thank you for the thought out response. I am going to look into trusts but also consider the possibility of guardianship. Given her history of hospitalizations, I don't think obtaining guardianship will be an issue. – James Apr 22 '19 at 6:09

There's no reason in principle why the will should not direct the executor(s) to sell the house and use the money for the objects set out elsewhere in the will. However, this will only work if the executors are willing; either you are executor and your sister is not (which your mother may feel is unfair, even if the two of you are equal beneficiaries), or appoint a lawyer as executor. This latter will be costly (though many legal firms will agree to execute a will for a fixed percentage of the estate) and time-consuming (varying inversely with cost; a busy lawyer will put a low-paying estate at the back of the queue for his time).

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