SMART MONEY: Siblings disagree over house left by mother
DEAR BRUCE: I have two siblings who are much older. I’ve lived with my mother all my life, and when her illness started about 10 years ago, I was the one who took care of her. My siblings never helped.
During the time I was taking care of my mother, I had the house transferred under Medicare’s Child Caretaker Exemption Rule. My siblings were in agreement with the transfer.
When my mother died a few years ago, we went to the lawyer and learned we didn’t need to probate the will. The house was already in my name, and the only other thing my mother had was a bank account, which had my name on it. We filed only for inheritance tax.
I split up the money from the bank account, which I had no obligation to do. Later, my siblings wanted to take out a mortgage on the house so that I could split the money with them. My lawyer says I have no legal obligation to do so.
I had my will and other documents rewritten earlier this year. I have decided to have my estate given to various charities. I was wondering what your thoughts are. — Caregiver, via email
DEAR CAREGIVER: My goodness! You have certainly been generous with your siblings, who made no contribution to your mother’s happiness and care during her long illness.
The fact that the house was transferred to your name is not a problem. It’s yours and that’s the end of the story. You split the money that was in the bank account, which you had no obligation to do.
They then wanted you to take a mortgage on the house so you could split the money with them. You would have to be ready for the funny farm to do so. These people did nothing and now they want you to share the proceeds of what your mother left behind.
I think you are wise to give your estate to charity, and I wouldn’t feel the least bit guilty. There can be little love between you and your siblings, and they have demonstrated their inconsideration and selfishness. I think you have been overly generous to this point and I wouldn’t give them another nickel.
DEAR BRUCE: Is it a good idea to convert my Saving Bonds from paper to the TreasuryDirect plan? — R.K., via email
DEAR R.K.: If I understand your question correctly, you are asking whether or not it’s a good notion to turn the actual Savings Bond instruments, which are probably on the ancient side, back to the Treasury so everything is on the computer. Absolutely! This way you won’t have to worry about misplacing, storing or losing them, and anytime you need information, it will be readily available.
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