My wife and I married later in life, and we both had separate properties that we have tried to protect with a prenuptial agreement. We both have wills, and our separate properties should be distributed accordingly upon our deaths.
Part of my wife’s separate property was acquired through inheritance, which gave her and her previous husband joint ownership. In their divorce, the property settlement provided that she pay her husband $50,000 for his share and she acquired a mortgage to satisfy the judgment.
I have verified the probate of the property, divorce agreement, and the deed of trust by the mortgagee and everything appears to be in order, The home and property was sold several years ago after. We were married 15 years after that. The deeds were free and clear in her name.
Five years have elapsed since the property was sold and her two adult sons now claim that their deceased father had promised that the house would one day belong to them after he was gone. They say the house is rightfully theirs, and they deserve compensation for that.
One of her sons told his mother that she is no longer welcome at his home, and therefore not allowed to visit her granddaughter. In other words, she will never see her granddaughter again — unless she does what he says. My wife is obviously suffering, but so far she has stood firm.
Should she give into her son for the sake of her grandchild?
Her son is playing a dangerous game. Assuming your wife is splitting her estate between her kids, he would already receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of that house. But he wants 50% of those proceeds — and he wants it now! It’s not about the house. If it wasn’t this, it would likely be something else. Few people with a healthy relationship would resort to such hard-ball tactics.
What if she decides to give each of sons $50,000? That might encourage her son to stand down. Or maybe not. He might say she could see her granddaughter every other week, or even once a month, or every Sunday — and cancel half of them at the last minute. I don’t believe he will suddenly turn turtle and become a loving, supportive person by welcoming her back with open arms.
Your wife’s ex-husband obviously can’t promise something to his sons that did not belong to him. He had ample time to set his children right on this, and at the very least give them the $50,000 he received for his portion of the house. It is not your wife’s moral, ethical or legal obligation to right the wrongs of her ex-husband. This was not your wife’s mess to clean up. It was his.
I suggest that your wife explain this calmly to her son in a face-to-face meeting, if possible. Ask him what lies beneath all of this animosity. Is it really just the house? Then leave the rest up to the gods.
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