Whose Assets to Tap First?

A friend came to me for advice the other day regarding a big problem brewing in his house. His in-laws are getting up in years and have very little saved to cover their health care and long term needs. Health problems are starting to show up and expenses are mounting. They’ve told their daughter and my friend that without any cash reserves, they are going to have to rely on whatever assistance they can get from family. This is not entirely true, however.

The in-laws own a large chunk of land that has been valued in the millions of dollars. They have had several offers from developers and mining companies. The land is valuable either as a subdivision in a fast growing area or for the de

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13 Responses to Whose Assets to Tap First?

  1. Has he considered other short-term ways to tap money of the land without selling it? Do they own the mineral rights to the land? If so, I’d suggest they he sold the mineral rights to a company, and then lease the land to them while they mine/drill it. (With clear agreements as to the state the land should be left in when they were done.) This maintains the land ownership in the family (keeping the others happy), but gives you a windfall of short term money to help them live through retirement. You wil have to be very careful, though, about the tax consequences. Such a windfall would be taxed like crazy!

    Whatever you do, though, I would advise the Dad against leaving the land to his children in some kind of joint ownership. We have family land that was left by my grandfather to his NINE children. It really has been more of a divider in our family than a uniter. Most times, I wish he would have just sold it and distributed the money to his kids, or put it in some kind of trust to provide education for his descendants.

  2. snshijuptr says:

    Our family has a similar problem but with furniture. We divided up my grandmother’s furniture and some members of the family think that we don’t have right to sell any pieces we no longer want. I’m not even talking beloved antiques! People get weird about possessions that were once “co-owned” even if it was by deceased ancestors.

  3. RD says:

    Why not simply build an extension and have the in-laws move in? He can hire a nurse to come once a day to check on them.

    RD

  4. Elisabeth says:

    WhiteEyeBrows has a good idea about the mineral rights, but maybe the gas rights would be less destructive. Talking to the wife and parents about this would be a start. Then see a very, very good oil & gas lawyer who specializes in that type of thing to protect the land and parties involved. They could probably avoid selling the land and yet get money out of it to pay the in-law growing health care costs.

  5. Elisabeth says:

    Sorry, I forgot to say I would lease the rights, not sell them outright.

  6. Rudz says:

    Forget the materialistic things in life, when it comes to your health, sell the land.

    Myself, I would tell the in-laws that I cannot help since they have assets in the millions. If I did help, then I was faced by a medical disaster and it ruined my life after they were gone and I could not provide for my family….well you get the picture.

    I’m pretty sure the family will not outcast you if you need to sell the land in order to LIVE. If they do, then they are not the family you need.

  7. Your idea about the other members buying them out was what I thought and the mineral rights idea could be good as well. Except all the fracing for natural gas scares the #$%^ out of me.

    I think the real question is: Why must family unity be kept at any cost? Who wants to be around insane people who would rather see the old people be poor or who think your friend should deplete his hard earned resources when the in-laws have untapped ones?

    I think your friend needs to prepare his wife to have some healthy boundaries with her insane family and sell if the POA comes into action and if the other options don’t work.

  8. a91030mom says:

    I totally agree with Nichole@40daysof. If the land was on the other foot, I doubt they would give it a second thought. You said earlier that they don’t have money, so they are not good planners/savers. If they are the ones to benefit from keeping the land as is, then it should be incumbent upon them to foot the upcoming medical costs, no?

    I have family like this, they are bad planners and because I am a good planner, they feel ENTITLED to *me* helping them out. I did some and it was not enough, they want more. Had to cut off the gravy and all of a sudden I am mud, never-mind the help I have already provided, all that is forgotten!

    If the family does ostracize them, for using the land so the elderly members medical needs are taken care of, then they are manipulators, plain and simple and best to know that now because they are not going to be there for you in any case.

  9. Diane says:

    I’d say sell the land if necessary. If the mineral rights worked out that would be great, but otherwise the land goes.

    I’d find out the value, & offer it to the family to purchase at that value first, with the understanding that if they don’t buy it the land will be sold to someone else. The ball is then in THEIR court.

    If this causes a family battle, so be it. I would not tap my savings to pay for medical care when the in-laws have other assets. That could go on indefinitely. (I would look at this differently if they did not have assets to use.)

  10. Jaime says:

    I have to agree, since they have an untapped asset that could potentially bring millions (*millions* whoa!) if sold that changes the whole picture. It is mind boggling to me that family members would rather see their relatives struggle than do what they need to do to have security in their elder years. Where is the love? I appreciate the idea of legacy, but this situation sounds like a legacy of financial hardship and uncertainty.

    Plus, who inherits? If it’s the daughter and son-in-law that are being asked to help subsidize this retirement, then what will these other relatives do when they feel they have to sell anyway to recoup losses?

    I hope for your friend’s sake that his inlaws come to their senses and the family friction is relatively short and bloodless.

  11. magsqoti says:

    I suggest a family meeeting with the adjacent owners regarding this no-sell situation. If they don’t want the property sold either then see if they are willing to set up a “care” fund whereby the seriously contribute to the parents’ care and expenses while they are alive. You might be surprised where their interest and alliegance falls.

  12. Chris says:

    If the property is theirs and they are in financial needs, then I think that they need to sell the property in order to take care of themselves. The rest of the family can come up with a contingency plan to deal with what ever land remains.

  13. Gail says:

    Sounds like a nutso family that who cares if they stop speaking to you. If this is the only asset these elders have to live on, the land needs sold (or leased or whatever will bring in cash). There is no reason for the younger couple to subsidize the elderly parents when they are worth millions. If the relatives next door don’t like it, they can either take the people in or buy the land themselves. Throughout the centuries family land has had to be sold to cover expenses. This is not a new problem, but one that always amazes me. I can’t understand people expecting others to care for them when they have the resources to do for themselves.

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