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VIC Can Sister Charge Rent for Mother's Deceased Estate?

Discussion in 'Wills and Estate Planning Law Forum' started by Mackenzie, 31 May 2016.

  1. Mackenzie

    Mackenzie Member

    31 May 2016
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    I'm in Victoria. My mum passed away late last year and both myself and my sister are co-executors of will and co-beneficiaries. Probate has been granted already but the hold up is that my sister won't sign the deed as she is after more money. To cut a long story short, I moved in with my mum a few months prior to her passing on the advice of her doctor as she was no longer able to live independently due to health issues, both physical and mental, so my family and I moved out of my own house and moved in with mum.

    I took an extended break from work to become my mother's full-time carer. My own home was not rented out it stayed empty completely. My mum passed away about two months later and I had an agreement with my sister verbally from the start that I was going to buy my sister out which she agreed to so I continued living there asIi had a vested interest in my mum's estate, and the plan was to sell my own home as it was relatively smaller and put the money from my house to the mortgage that I would have paying my sister out.

    We never agreed on a price as she got her real estate agents in, I got mine and the figures were not compatible so we paid a professional valuer $500 to give an independent valuation. This valuation turned out to be more than what her real estate valued the property at and more that mine - I'm talking $50K - so even though I wasn't happy with this I accepted the fact I needed to fork out another $25K.

    The next issue she then went on to is she wanted contents from the house, I said to her write a list of what she wanted then we can go from there. She didn't want physical items she wanted the money and she wanted to hire a contents valuator to come in and value. I told her if she wanted to do that, she would have to pay for it out of her own pocket and not out of the estate as I already agreed that she can have some of mum's stuff so it made no sense to fork out money for someone to tell me what my mum's couch and bed, etc. were worth (absurd).

    I made it quite clear I'm not ready to sell my mum's stuff multiple times but if she wanted to hire a van and come physically get half the assets and sell them independently herself, we can arrange a time/date to do so she was not happy with this and then we stopped hearing from her and so did the lawyer. As I was feeling very uneasy by her actions, I went to my lawyer and asked her because I had my stuff in the house as well as my mum's.

    Can I change the locks as I was told by my neighbour that he saw my sister coming into the house whilst I was at work, few things were taken and some of my stuff were damaged, which she never admitted to?

    Anyway to cut a long story short, the lawyer advised as I was living there I could because I'm protecting my assets, so I did. My sister found out and now is claiming that I am stopping her from getting my mum's stuff and that legally she can come and go as she pleases as the house is not in my name yet.

    So this is when the subject of rent came up (9 months later) out of spite. She is now stating that I never gained her permission to stay at the deceased estate so I need to pay rent to the estate. The facts are I paid all the bills rates, water, upkeep (lawn mowing) there were few plumbing emergencies I was also paying bills for my own home till it gets sold.

    Once again I had no income coming from rent. So my question is, does she have a right to charge rent when it was brought up 9 months later? She is the one dragging her feet the whole time as when her demands are not met, she stops all forms of communications. The fact of the matter is if I knew about this rent, I would have moved back into my house till my mum's estate was settled.

    Why would I willingly pay rent in a house when my own house is sitting there vacant gathering dust? I have a vested interest, she has always agreed to sell me her half of mum's house. The will states everything gets split 50/50, so because a house cannot be split in half and it's too sentimental for me to sell, I am stuck as to what legally I can do.

    Any help would be great

  2. Victoria S

    Victoria S Well-Known Member

    9 April 2014
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    As far as I am aware your sister cannot charge backdated rent on the deceased's property if there was no agreement. You can't be made liable for rent retrospectively without your consent. However, as you are both beneficiaries of the house you are both liable for the expenses of the home and are both entitled to any rent that is paid. Therefore, you would receive half of your rent back, and would be able to seek half of all of your expenses relating to the house (not utilities such as electricity, gas and water) from your sister.

    If she still wants to pursue it, then you can decide to move out of the house and not pay rent. Take out all of your stuff so it's not at risk of being taken and split all of the household items at the same time. I guess you would have to weigh up the time and expense of moving with paying rent until the transaction is settled.
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