Harvey Butaleon Degree Sr.
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"Too Much Ahead To Look Back"
"Dancing Above The Clouds"
Butaleon's Blog Post
Children In Chains
February 20, 2019
Sometimes parents can unwittingly bind their children in chains. Case in point, I co-signed a land loan with my dad in 2005. He was retired with no income and putting up his house for collateral wasn’t enough to cover the loan, I stepped up.
Before dad died, I’d put together a plan to pay off the loan and restore the house to its former self. Imagine my surprise when I tried to have the electricity turned on and the city of Cherryville informed me that I had to have the signatures of all ten of my brothers and sisters listed on the deed. I was pissed as much as I was surprised. I later learned dad had put all his children on the deed. Only problem with this, we all may own the property but I’m the only one responsible for the repayment of the loan. Since his death I get phone calls every day except Sunday to inform me the loan is past due. When the fire insurance wasn’t picked up, I got phone calls. When the property taxes weren’t paid, I got phone calls. My credit score took a massive dip. I felt angry and isolated alone in no man’s land.
I’m not alone. Others have told me their stories.
Note – I changed their names to protect their privacy.
Johnny paid off his mama’s house over twenty years ago and she transferred the deed to his name. She continued to live in the home. Now his sister wants her daughter to live in the house because she can’t do better and his mama demands he give the house to his brother who won’t do better. Mama and sister stopped speaking to him because he intends to keep the house and rent it to help with his retirement.
William’s parents left a small parcel of land at Moss Lake for him to share with his four brothers and sisters. The five siblings are stretched as far as New Jersey to California and all over the age of sixty. They can’t use it. They all have kids and grand kids who so far don’t want to deal with it. The problem – five siblings and their spouses agreeing to a settlement that will benefit them all.
David shared with me how his wife was the only sibling to visit her parents in five years who were gravely ill. She has four brothers who all live within five miles of the parent’s home. The brothers called their sister often trying to find out what was in the parents will. The father died in November and a couple of the brothers went to the house looking for the will before they went to the funeral. David’s wife is living in the house taking care of her mom. Her brothers are angry because they feel she will get the house and money because she is the only girl.
Roy’s father died leaving over $140,000 in business debt. Roy, being the eldest of three, the other two lived hundreds of miles away, was left to clean the slate. Roy’s father kept terrible books on who paid him and who he owed. Anyone who presented the court a claim, Roy had to honor and make amends. He ended up selling everything his father had to meet the claims and still had to dip into his own 401. As you might expect, Roy speaks very caustic of his dad.
So, what can be done, if anything?
In my case, the attorney informed me if no other sibling will assume the loan, then my only options were asking the judge for a quick/hard sale (A judge can order a hard sale which is a technique of pressuring the sellers to agree to a purchase – a quick sale is a form of a of a business deal which involves buying a property for a price lower than its normal value. This normally happens when the mortgage loan could not be paid by the borrower, or home owner). If the house and property is auditioned off and the selling price is less than the outstanding loan, I am still responsible for the remainder. If the loan is met and there is extra money, this is to be equally divided among everyone on the deed. My other option is to keep the loan. Either way I go, I’m the only one subject to taking a loss.
Parents should never put their children on the deed. If you wish to leave your house to your children enter it into your will.
Need more advice –
More Than One Deed Owner – Who Owns What? The Times Herald
Risks of Adding Your Child to Your Homes Deed – Ridges & Associates