My two siblings and I are working out our inheritance, one piece of which is our late mother's home. My wife and I had been living here, rent-free (and unemployed and at a mid-career impasse/life confusion/etc), when she passed away in September. Things have been somewhat in limbo for emotional and paperwork reasons (and some understandable procrastination) but now it is getting to the point where we need to have a plan in place. My sister has offered us an option, and I just want to suss it out here.
She has said the house will not be ready to go on the market until about March or April, since we need to get much of our mother's possessions out of the house so that the closets look empty, etc, so that the house will sell. [which I'm not as sure about, but go with it for a moment]. My wife and I have discussed with my siblings possibly buying this house--which I asked about on this forum recently--but are not yet sure what we want to do. My sister said that we could stay here during this time of readying the house, but, and here is the key point: we have to pay the property taxes and homeowners insurance, as well as the utilities.
I told her that would be OK, but now I'm a little less sure about this arrangement, at least in terms of us paying the entire property tax and insurance. It occurred to me that whether my wife and I were living in this house, the property tax and insurance would need to be paid; if the house were empty until April, I assume my two siblings and I would split the amount, each paying 1/3rd of the amount.
I could see asking my wife and I to pay the full tax/insurance if that magically only applied to occupied homes, but since the tax and insurance must be paid whether the home is occupied or not...I'm not sure why we should have to pay all of them, other than that it would be more pleasant for my siblings (though less for us).
My sister's very briefly stated justification was that since my wife and I are getting the benefit of living here, we should pay the entirety of the property taxes and insurance. But, of course, neither of my siblings have any opportunity to make use of this benefit, since they are happy in their own properties. In fact, my being here provides a service to the family, in that by living here we are monitoring the home and caretaking it. Yes, of course, we get a big benefit out of it, too, but only we can make use of it.
I could definitely see paying the full property taxes if our staying here prevented the house from selling, and, in fact, that would still not even be fair to my siblings and I wouldn't do that. But the point is, if my wife and I don't take this "deal" and don't live here, this pre-sell period is going to have an unoccupied house sitting here anyway, which our family is unwilling to rent out.
It is sort of like that episode of I Love Lucy where the Ricardos are going to California by car and the Mertzs ask if they can go with them but then say they don't have to pay any gas because the back seat is going to CA anyway. Of course, the Mertzs' weight would reduce mileage considerably, but my wife and I living here will not affect the property taxes and insurance at all.
I am willing to pay for all the utilities. Strictly speaking, some of the heat and electricity bill would be paid whether anyone is in the house or not, since we have to keep the pipes from freezing and there is a minimum customer charge each month, but I would be willing to pay those fully because that seems more like splitting hairs. The additional property tax and insurance, though, will be something like $3k spent by my wife and I over the period discussed--and more if we wind up staying here longer if the house doesn't sell and we have no other option.
Is there any financial conventional wisdom that would inform as to whether this arrangement would be considered fair/appropriate?
EDIT: Wanted to emphasize that, in the eyes of my siblings, this house cannot be rented out during this pre-sell period. If we were to move out, it would sit here unoccupied, incurring the same property taxes, insurance, and a smaller cost of utilities.