Harry Gross: Wife wonders: Is hubby his brother's keeper?

Posted: September 28, 2012

DEAR HARRY: Back in September 1995, my father-in-law died. My husband was named as executor of the estate. He gave a Realtor $300 to have his father's home put in his brother's name. Unfortunately, his brother is an alcoholic who has never held a job more than a few weeks.

My husband chose not to sell the house because that would make his brother homeless. He also gave his brother $8,000, which was half of the estate remaining after all bills were paid. For several years, the Realtor notified us that he was still trying to get my brother-in-law to show up to sign the necessary papers. After the turn of the century, we no longer heard from the Realtor, and we assumed that the transfer was made.

We heard a few years ago that my husband's brother had stopped paying all his bills and was living in the house with no heat, water or electricity. We never received any notices of taxes or water delinquencies. The first notice we got from anyone was in June when we got a bill from the water department. My husband called and was told to "let sleeping dogs lie and they will stop sending bills." We got another bill yesterday. Are we somehow responsible? We now live in another state.

WHAT HARRY SAYS: It appears that your husband's name was never on the title except possibly as executor. I'm certain that a final accounting was filed when the estate was terminated. It is remotely possible that the city will continue their efforts. The partially filled out papers left with the Realtor should get you off the hook totally, if necessary.


Email Harry Gross at harrygross@phillynews.com or write to him at Harry Gross c/o the Daily News, Box 8263, Philadelphia, PA 19101.

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