I will be 50% owner of my dad's home when he passes, and I want to own it all, and my brother is willing to sell me his half.

Right now my dad is living and it has come to the point where he needs to be with someone full time. He is willing to move in with me and my family. I am willing to do this for a short time and would like to upgrade and maybe add a room or two for my whole family to live under one roof.

How would we handle this situation? Would we get an appraisal now and I pay all upgrades and I buy my brother out from that appraisal? Or split the cost and pay for the price at the time of sale?

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    Adding a room is no small endeavor... If your dad needs to be looked after right now it might not be wise to concurrently begin a major renovation on the house...
    – quid
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 18:44
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    What country are you in? Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 18:56
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    Does your dad have other assets that could be divided differently so that you could inherit the entire house and your brother receive other compensation in the will? Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 18:59
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    If it were me, I wouldn't make any changes/improvements to the property until you're able to buy out your brother's half, which ends any potential for conflict and lets you enjoy the full value of the appreciation from the improvements you make. Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 19:28
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    Are you planning to add a room or two to the house you live in now or your father's house?
    – mkennedy
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 19:58

3 Answers 3


In the end you, your dad, and your brother should come to an agreement so there's no surprises or unfulfilled expectations, but here's my opinion:

If you can afford to make the additions now:

I would offer to pay fully for the addition, with the understanding that the additional value that it generates is yours. That keeps everything in your name, and should be fair since you pay for the expense and someday reap the benefit.

If you can't afford to make the additions now:

I see two options: have your brother buy your father's house, giving you half of the proceeds, and use those proceeds to make the addition as above, or split the cost of the addition and have some sort of contract drawn up promising to reimburse him (with the amount of the reimbursement very clear, like XXX dollars plus accrued interest at Y% annually) as a condition to selling the house.

One other part you didn't mention is any compensation you get for keeping your father at your house. What compensation (if any) you get is not as important as making sure that the three of you all agree on what is fair.

In any case, clear, honest communication and full agreement is key. There is a very real risk that when your father's estate is settled that there will be disputes over what the agreement was and who it entitled to what. Having everything in writing may sound cold, but it keeps everyone on the same page.

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    I believe the brother wants money, not the house. So your "I see two options" paragraph is backwards. Commented Feb 18, 2017 at 13:40

If your father is still able to make financial decisions and sign contracts, I see a better option. Have your father borrow against his equity to finance the renovation.

Example: the house is worth 400 now. He can borrow 100 against that. He spends it on the addition, making the house worth 500, with the same 400 of equity as before. (In some cases, spending 100 might add 150 to the house value, but let's assume here the increase is just what was spent.) When he dies, the mortgage has to be repaid. If he has no other money (that the two of you would otherwise split) then the mortgage has to be repaid by the two of you putting in cash. So you pay your brother 250 (half the new total value of the house) but he gives 50 of that to the bank for the mortgage. You also give 50 of your own money to the bank for the mortgage. Net result: your brother has 200 (the same as if he had inherited half the unimproved house), and you have a 500 house after paying out 300. Your gain is also the same as if the house was unimproved.

Now if the house went up 150 by spending 100, or went up 60 by spending 100, you and your brother would also be sharing this profit or loss. If you don't want that to happen, you will need a different agreement. The advantage of the approach I'm suggesting is you just need one appraisal after your father dies.

Not accounted for in this is that you lived (without paying rent) in your father's house for some time, and that you worked (without being paid) as a caregiver to your father for that time. Some families might think those two things balanced, others might feel you need to be compensated for caring for him, and others that you need to compensate the others for your benefit of living in the large house. Be sure to discuss this with your brother so that you agree in advance whether a plan is fair or not.


Here is what I would recommend: You could buy the house from your father now. At that point, you will own the house and can make any improvements to it you want. Your father can then live with you in what is now your house. The cash from the sale will go to your father, and when he passes whatever cash he has left will get split between you and your brother.

Although your brother isn’t directly involved in the sale, you should run the plan by him and get his approval, so there are no surprises down the road. Decide ahead of time whether or not you will charge your father rent for living in what is now your house, and make sure your brother is aware and is okay with the arrangement, because if you do charge your father rent, although it might be fair, some people might see it as you getting a larger share from your father than you should. Make sure you get a good appraisal (perhaps more than one) and offer your father a fair price.

By buying the house now while he is still alive and getting your brother’s approval ahead of time, it simplifies everything:

  • It allows you to make improvements without worrying about how the investment will be split later.

  • Inheritance will be simpler when the time comes. Joint ownership of a house is always a difficulty. Cash inheritances are much easier and quicker to distribute. This point is a benefit to both you and your brother, and should be pointed out to him if he is hesitant.

  • It gives your father some (perhaps needed) cash, yet keeps him out of debt and lets him stay in the house.

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