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My parents are about to retire this year, and have a comfortable pension from my Dad's various trade jobs he's worked over the years ($120,000.00/year), which is corrected for inflation each year. They have about $2.8 million in assets, mostly in the form of their house in Vancouver, plus about $600,000.00 spare cash, and a life insurance policy that pays out a further $500,000.00 for each of them upon the end-of-life of either of my parents ($1,000,000.00 when they are both, unfortunately, gone).

My parents have already indicated in their will that everything will be split between me and my older brother. Right now, I'm married with kids and doing well (degrees, good job, etc), but my older brother has three kids from a failed marriage, and the wife has moved to Europe. He has minimal earning potential, and moved in (with his kids) into my parents' house. They've been trying to get him to move out after 3 years, but he never seems to be able to make a go of it.

When my parents eventually pass away, and the issue of inheritance comes up, would my brother be entitled to more than his "fair" share (i.e. 50%) of the proceeds of the sale of the house, or be able to prevent it from being sold, due to him and his children living there? This is in Canada.

Also, my brother is living there as a tenant and isn't paying any rent.

  • It is important to say: Talk to your parents, and brother, about this before the inevitable happens. It may seem awkward and painful to do it now, but it will be much more awkward and painful if you are trying to resolve differing expectations while at the same time grieving the loss of your parents. – DJClayworth Oct 16 '17 at 18:37
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Not sure if Canadian law is different, but in the US, the will is paramount. If the will states that everything is split 50/50, then that's what the court should enforce. The fact that he's living in the house would not prevent it from being sold, the fact that he owns half of it now might. However, the court could decide (or you could agree) they you get your share of the estate from assets other than the house, and your brother gets the house and any other assets needed to make the split as close to 50/50 as possible.

If this is a situation that is likely to cause problems when your parents pass, I would recommend that they talk to an estate planner to deal with that contingency if/when it happens. It's better for them to deal with it now while they still can make their wishes explicit than to leave it up to you or the courts to interpret their wishes.

  • He doesn't own any of the house right now: he's just living as a tenant their without paying any rent. – Joseph Oct 16 '17 at 15:51
  • He will effectively own half of it if/when your parents pass. Again, Canadian probate might be different that the US, though. – D Stanley Oct 16 '17 at 15:52
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    @Joseph No, He gets what's in the will. All the above is written on the assumption that your parent's assets get left to you 50/50. – DJClayworth Oct 16 '17 at 15:57
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    @Joseph "My parents have already indicated in their will that everything will be split between me and my older brother. " I assumed this meant a 50/50 split. If it's not explicitly stated in the will now, then it should be added. – D Stanley Oct 16 '17 at 16:46
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    Speculation about how the legal system works in a country one is not familiar with does not make for a good answer. – Eric Oct 16 '17 at 20:23

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