My parents died of COVID-19 and left no will. My brother lives rent free in their house and has borrowed $ 35,000. And now?


Dear Quentin,

Both of my parents recently died from COVID-19.

They have a few bank accounts and own their home, and they were not in debt. I have 5 older siblings and one who passed away with two living sons. My parents did not leave any wills or instructions on what to do in the event of death. My siblings and I don’t agree on anything, so we didn’t move forward with probate.

“One of my brothers lives in the house without rent. My mom loaned my other brother $ 35,000 for his down payment on his mobile home. ‘

One of my brothers lives in the house without rent. My mom loaned my other brother $ 35,000 for his mobile home down payment. He now says it was a gift and he doesn’t have to pay it back. There are receipts, but they were paid directly to the escrow company from my mom’s bank account.

Does he have to repay this money since it was a bona fide loan? Does my other brother have to pay rent, and how do I get probate so that we don’t lose the house and the bank accounts, while not killing ourselves in the process since half of us see things wrong? one completely different way?


You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to the coronavirus at [email protected]

Dear JB,

You need to appoint an administrator who can start probate and sort out any issues among your siblings. It can be a laborious process. In addition to collecting documents for your parents’ property, in some states the administrator also requires a true family tree of descendants. But given your siblings’ stalemate and the benefit for some of your siblings to delay probate, there is no other option. Ideally, that person should be an objective party with no horse in the race. Real estate law firms will have probate and estate administration attorneys to assist you.

“While many executors and administrators perform these designated tasks expeditiously and prudently, this is not always the case. “

– White & Williams, a law firm based in the North East

Unlike an executor, an administrator takes over when there is no will. “If the deceased has not exercised his right to appoint a personal representative, and if no person with close connections is available, the court, at its discretion, may appoint a person unknown to the deceased and unfamiliar with his affairs. According to law firm White and Williams. “This is often the case when the court is concerned about possible conflicts of interest or the rights of creditors or other beneficiaries.

And, now, a warning. “While many executors and administrators perform these designated tasks expeditiously and prudently, this is not always the case,” adds the law firm. “State law generally imposes on a personal representative the standard of care of a ‘reasonable and prudent person’ in all circumstances. What is reasonable and prudent for the personal representative in the performance of his duties is not always so for the beneficiaries, especially a posteriori.

If your parents helped your brother get a mortgage, they will probably have signed a “gift letter” to satisfy the bank and / or the residents’ association. Assuming it wasn’t a notarized loan agreement, the administrator will likely decide that this $ 35,000 was given to your brother as a gift. This is a caveat to always ensure that personal loans – even if you know the person well and are well intentioned – are recorded in a notarized agreement.

For those who have not made a will, your story provides another lesson. Whether you’re 30 or 80, you should have a will, especially if you have children. As your story painfully illustrates, siblings rarely agree.

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