Lawlink – What can I do about not being able to afford to pay my brother to inherit a home?

last will and testament white printer paper
Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash

Q. My older brother passed away late last year. He left me his home in his will, on the condition that I pay my other brother €30,000 within two years. He also left my sister €25,000. I was my brother’s main carer during his life and had to quit my job to look after him over the last few years of his life. By the time he died, he had no cash left due to health care expenses. Both my (other) brother and sister live elsewhere with their families and are comfortable. As I gave up my job to look after my brother, I am not working and I have absolutely no way of raising €55,000 to pay my brother and sister. My brother recently contacted me looking for his money and said that I should sell the house if I have to.

Dear Reader,

Firstly, let’s look at your sister’s cash bequest. It is the position that, unfortunately, your sister doesn’t get any benefit and cannot recoup the €25,000 that was left to her as her legacy is what is termed “abated or reduced” – in other words, when one is left cash in a will and there is no cash available to make the bequest, that is an end to the matter.

Your brother’s situation is different in that the house was left to you “on the condition” that you paid him €30,000, so he is entitled to get the money in this instance.

I note you say that you have no funds available to pay off your brother and, in these circumstances, your brother is right and you may have to sell the house in order to raise the cash required.

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Notwithstanding this, in you brother’s will it did stipulate that the money was to be paid within two years of the date of his death. As your brother has only passed last year, time is on your side and you possibly have another year to come up with the money.

You might need to look at the possibility of raising a mortgage over the property. Practically speaking, you should open a credit union account and lodge money in every month in the hope that, at the end of the two-year period stipulated in, your brother’s will, you will have enough to take out a credit union loan to pay your brother off.

The bottom line is that your brother is premature with his demands.

People making a will and leaving property to a beneficiary conditional on paying a sum of money to another party should always be aware that doing so may cause unintended hardship to the beneficiary if the beneficiary is financially unable to meet the obligation.

You should consult with your own solicitor and financial advisor as soon as possible in this regard.