Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Thank you thank you thank you

The Whopper is supposed to be napping right now.  I finally managed to get him to sleep (no small task, I tell you), popped him in his swing, went to wash some dishes, came back 10 minutes later and he's awake and chatting away to himself.  Sigh.  I'm ignoring him in the hopes that he will fall back asleep, but that seems unlikely.  We had hoped our kid would enjoy sleeping as much as Jeeves and I do.  But apparently not.

Anyway, Max's sleep habits are not the point of this post.

The day Dad died I called my old college friend who also happens to be the attorney for Dad's estate.  I'm the executor of the estate, and after a couple of weeks in which I had to plan Dad's memorial service, I started the probate process.  Executing an estate is a lot of work, and my dad's estate isn't even that complicated.  It's definitely giving me food for thought on how Jeeves and I should structure our will.  But anyway.  A part of the estate is my dad's house, my childhood home.

The house is in suburban New Jersey.  It's an old house, over 100 years old and it has a lot of character.  My parents lived there for over 40 years.  To put it mildly, the house needs a lot of work.  A lot of work.  The kitchen is pretty good, and sure, the house is livable, but in this market to meet the desires of most buyers, well, it would be a tough sell.  The bedrooms are small, the closets are small.  The doors are old.  It's carpeted and the carpets were installed in the 1980s.  There's lots of terrible wallpaper.  No central air.  A scary unfinished basement, which is where the laundry hookup is.  A very nice, large yard which needs some serious TLC.  Only one full bath.  A tiny half bath on the ground floor.  A difficult to navigate driveway.  And it's on a busy corner (when my parents bought it, it was a sleepy, quiet corner, but now it's super busy).  And worst of all - an underground oil tank.  The house doesn't use oil heat anymore, but the oil tank was never removed.

We had the house appraised as part of the probate process and frankly, I was surprised it came in as high as it did.  My sister, on the other hand, thought the appraisal was too low and had grand ideas about what we could get.  We argued over the oil tank.  I emphasized that no buyer would take the house with the tank in - we would have to remove it (which can be very, very expensive if there's contamination).  My sister generally agreed with me.  But then there's good old brother in law (BIL).

Where do I start on BIL?  I think I've mentioned before that I am not a big fan of his, and my mom and dad weren't either.  I'll just sum it up by saying that the day after my dad died my sister texted me saying that BIL was concerned about my dad's stock portfolio and thought we should liquidate it right away.  Yeah.  The day after my dad died.  Anyway, BIL's position on the oil tank was that we should not tell any prospective buyer about it.  Let's ignore the fact that as executor, I would have to certify that I don't know of anything on the property that would negatively impacts the condition.  And I in fact do know that there's a condition on the property that presents a problem.  Buyers usually hire inspectors and inspectors in NJ know to look for oil tanks.  Ugh, whatever.  Lying about the oil tank was never going to happen.  I ignored him.

I should add that BIL's current employment is buying properties, fixing them up, and renting them out.  He's been doing it for a couple of years now and seems to like it.  Rather than going into all the nitty gritty details, I'll just say that we got some "as is" offers on the property, my sister spent more time at the house cleaning out Dad's stuff and seemed to realize that in this market we weren't going to get what she thought we should for the house, and BIL spent a lot of time there with her and he has perpetual dollar signs in his eyes when talking about the house.  Eventually, BIL talked my sister into the idea of buying out my share of the house, fixing it up, and selling it for a profit.

So a couple of weeks ago they made me an offer.  It's definitely a discounted offer.  But on the other hand, they're willing to take it with the oil tank still in which relieves the estate of huge liability.  And I feel that any buyer would probably want a decent amount of credits on the house.  So while they're getting a discount from me, I feel it's a fair price.  My estate attorney required me to talk to an attorney who represents me as a beneficiary.  And I talked with my bestie Wendy, guru on all things financial and property and Sissy related.  After mulling it over, I decided to sell them my share.  I hate dealing with the estate, and I especially hate dealing with this house.  I just want to be done with it.  Seriously, the dealing with settling an estate where you and your sibling are the sole beneficiaries?  It's a lot like being in business with your sibling.  And while I love Sissy very much, I have no desire to be in business with her.

Jeeves and I went out to the house last weekend to get Dad's car jump started and take it to my in-laws who could keep an eye on it until we transfer title.  Sissy and BIL and my nephews were all there working on cleaning out the house.  BIL told me about his plans for the house (ripping out carpet and painting over wallpaper, widening the driveway, adding a second bathroom) and I just felt sad.  His plans for the yard include cutting down a beautiful flowering tree that my mom and dad loved, planting bamboo, and ripping out Dad's beloved burning bush so he can widen the driveway.

On the drive back to my in-laws', Jeeves groused about it.  My father was forever suspicious and skeptical of BIL.  And now Jeeves feels he needs to take over that role.  We talked about how Dad would have hated the idea of BIL benefiting from his death, he would have hated BIL's plans for the yard.  And Jeeves pointed out that BIL probably intends to try to lie to any prospective buyer about the oil tank.  I felt badly, like I was letting Dad down.  But at the same time, I really want to extricate myself from this house and I want to settle the estate as quickly as possible because it really is like being in business with Sissy and I don't enjoy that sensation.

But what I really thought on that drive?  Thank goodness for Jeeves and Max.  Thank goodness I have my own little family and I'm not all alone.  Yes, I would have had Sissy.  But the idea of just having Sissy and BIL as my only family?  That thought makes me very sad.  I asked Jeeves, "What if Dad had died and I was single and didn't have Max?"  He acknowledged that that would have been a very sad situation for me.  I'm not a religious person at all, but I just kept muttering "thank you thank you thank you" to the universe that I have my own family now and so many things to look forward to.  

Max keeps me so busy, and when I'm not busy with him, I'm busy with Jeeves and the estate, so I have very little time in my own thoughts anymore.  The other day Max and I were out for a walk and there was nothing there but my thoughts.  And I have to admit - I'm a little depressed.  Not about being a new mom, which has gotten progressively better and easier.  Not about going back to work part-time in a few weeks.  No.  I'm depressed that my parents are gone.  When I look to the future with my little family of three, I feel hopeful and happy.  But I miss Dad so much these days.  And losing Dad has brought up all the old issues of missing my mom.  I wish they were here to see me now.  I wish I could tell them about everything that's been going on and seek their advice.  Honestly, that feeling of missing them will never go away.  I'll just get used to their absence.  

So that's it for the downer news.  Max turned 3 months over the weekend and he's become a very smiley and giggly baby - he's still the Angry Whopper from time to time, but much less often.  Here's a pic of the happy guy.


  1. OMG dimples. I think I may have fainted. Dimples. Dimples.


    The house situation is so so frustrating. Your BIL sounds, frankly, *awful* and I wish there was a good solution. Unfortunately it sounds like you either sell to your sister and let your BIL get his (horrible dishonest) way, or you creative a rift between yourself and your sister. Complicated as hell.

    But agreed on Jeeves and Max. Your family is beautiful.

    1. Yeah, I have no idea where those dimples came from, but love them! That's exactly it - I don't want to create tension with my sister. As imperfect as our relationship is, she's my only sibling.

  2. Eeeeee Max is adorable!!! Omg, those dimples...I don't know how you're going to discipline him when he flashes those dimples at you!

    I'm so glad to hear motherhood is easier now, you had so much going on with your dad passing away, that the last thing you needed was a tough start as a new mama. I really hope it continues to go smoothly as you and lil Whooper work out a schedule/system that works!

    The house situation...ugh. I am going through something so similiar right now with the house I live in. It is so tough...it has a tendency to bring out the worst in people! I would have done what you did too...but I totally understand feeling like you've let down your dad. Just know that what your sis and BIL are doing is theirs to own, not yours. You just did what you needed to do for your little family!

    And a beautiful family it is, I am so happy you have them too!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I don't understand it, but even in what's a simple 50/50 split of the assets, the money seems to complicate everything and brings out the worst in people as you say. I really understand why some people decide to just donate it all to charity when they die.

  3. OMG He's SO CUTE!!!!!! The gummy smile, he looks at you like you hung the moon! Love that!

    Wow sounds like a lot of drama and I think you were smart to take the out on that. What a mess! I hope they are honest about the oil tank, but at least you aren't put in the position of disclosing it and ticking them off or lying.

    1. Awww, thanks! Gummy smiles are the best.

      I hope they're going to be honest too, and I definitely think it will bite them in the butt if they're not. But I'm glad it won't involve me.

  4. Anonymous3:02 PM

    Awww, the happy whopper! I think you were smart to just take the amount they wanted to pay you and exit yourself from the drama. I have my own BIL from hell so I definitely understand how frustrating and disappointing it can be to deal with such a terrible person, but that's all the more reason to exit the situation. And I know it's hard to see the crap he is doing to your family home but I think your dad would be happier to know that you were so happy with your little family and were not spending any precious energy dealing with that douchebag. Love to hear that motherhood continues to get a little easier and to see that gorgeous growing boy!

    1. Isn't it so disappointing to have a crappy BIL? I have so many friends who love their BILs and SILs. I'm envious. But yeah, definitely happy to extricate myself from the mess.

  5. Ugh to missing family and dealing with crappy BIL. Big hugs. Yay for such a smiling Max and surviving the hardest newborn phase. Lots of giggles and new adventures to come.