Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“He Wants Us to Move Into His Parents’ Home”

My boyfriend’s parents are deceased and left him their house that he wants me to move into with him. Technically, it belongs to his two sisters as well, but they don’t want it for themselves — they have beautiful homes. The problem is the house is a huge museum to his parents, his siblings, a deceased brother, etc. It has great bones, but it hasn’t been remodeled since it was built in the 70s and needs to be completely updated. There are antiques everywhere (some of which are beautiful and we could keep them), artificial flowers, linoleum floors, no bathtubs and old bathrooms and appliances. When I say it needs updating, my boyfriend feels I’m putting down his parents’ taste. He also feels that everything in it has value there’s no reason to get rid of it. There are also the happy memories he has for the house so he likes it the way it is.

The house will also always belong to him and if something happens to him it will go to his children, who also want this house someday. So, this house will never be my home. I’m scared to move in because I want to feel a sense of belonging when I live in a home and that the home is a reflection of me, too. We have a house that we have lived in for three years that I love but now it has been sold. We have to move out by October. I think we should move into a home that can belong to both of us, and not just one of us, but he has already decided that he wants to move into his parents’ home. He talks about how we will fix it up a little but doesn’t want to spend a lot because it won’t be worth it for the value. I, however, believe that any remodeling we do is only an asset for his children or other relatives who may inherit the house. What do you think? — Ghosts in the Attic

I think you should absolutely not move into your boyfriend’s dead parents’ house under the current conditions he’s provided. Relationships are all about compromise and nowhere are the compromises bigger than in a couple’s home — where they live, where they put down roots. If your boyfriend is unable to make some compromises when it comes to living in his parents’ house — and I mean bigger ones than just swapping a couple throw pillows or changing the hardware on the kitchen cabinets — you should find your own place to live. You will be much, much better off living alone — even if that means ending your relationship — than setting a precedent with your boyfriend that his way is the law.

If you do move in with him under the current conditions, there’s the issue that you’ll be living in a home that your boyfriend’s two sisters have 2/3 ownership of. Do they have as much interest in keeping it in the family as your boyfriend? What happens if they suddenly decide they want to sell the place and split the profits? Or, what if one or both of them want to sell the place but your boyfriend refuses? Is your boyfriend in a financial position to buy them out? All of these questions could potentially lead to a family feud, which you would be in the dead-center of if you lived in that house. And what if the sisters are perfectly fine with their brother (and you) living in the house as long as you want and you are somehow able to convince your boyfriend to upgrade the place to your liking? The sisters still will own 2/3 of that home while you have zero ownership. Would you be willing to essentially pay thousands of dollars to increase the value of someone else’s property?

Even if you worked out the legalities of property ownership and investment — and you’d have to bring in a lawyer to help you with that; don’t even think about doing it on your own — you still have the issue of the decor to deal with. It’s ridiculous to expect you to live in a museum to your boyfriend’s past. It isn’t the least bit fair to you or to your future together. Again, he and his sisters have equal ownership of everything in that home, so if you could convince your boyfriend to move out everything — or at least most — of the stuff you object to (remember, if you’re compromising, you also have to accept some things that you don’t love, like maybe keeping your boyfriend’s dad’s favorite old recliner, or his mother’s seashell collection), the three of them would have to decide together what to do with it. They could have an estate sale and sell the stuff none of them care to hang on to (though something tells me that would be a very small amount), or they could house some of the items in the sisters’ “beautiful homes.” Or, they could rent a storage unit for the bulk of it.

You don’t mention marriage and whether that’s something either of you want. If it is something you’ve considered and talked about, now would be the time to talk about it a little more seriously. If you truly are concerned about moving into and potentially investing money in this house you literally have no ownership of, marriage could be one way to partially solve that issue. Of course, don’t get married for that reason alone! And don’t overlook the other issues marriage would create (or simply not solve). Marriage has a way of taking whatever issues existed before and magnifying them by a thousand, so make sure you’re on the same page before tying any knots.

October — the date you need to move out of your current place — isn’t that far off, though, and my advice is if you can’t come to a very satisfactory agreement/conclusion by, say, mid-August at the latest, start looking for a bachelorette pad for yourself. You need to look out for numero uno and moving into a house where so many ghosts live probably isn’t really the safest thing to do.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

68 comments… add one
  • PFG-SCR June 27, 2011, 8:25 am

    “…I want to feel a sense of belonging when I live in a home and that the home is a reflection of me, too.”

    It seems pretty clear that you’re not going to get this by moving into your boyfriend’s deceased parents’ home. So, you need to decide how important it is to continue living with your boyfriend. Unfortunately, you probably should have thought about all of this _before_ you sold the house you’re currently living in.

    While your boyfriend is set on moving in to the house immediately, does he envision spending the rest of his life there? Is it legally set up where he and his sisters have no option to sell it? Personally, if I inherited a home that I could not sell and would remain in the family, I’d be hesitant to spend a lot of money updating it since I’d never recoup that cost through the sale proceeds. And for you, you’ll never have any equity in the home, so any money you invest into it is only a temporary benefit to you (while you’re living there) and a long-term benefit to your boyfriend’s family.

    You don’t mention your ages nor do you mention where you see your relationship going long-term (marriage, children together, etc.) and whether your boyfriend is on the same page with this as you. Like Wendy suggested, take a step back and decide what you want out of this relationship because it seems as if moving into his parents’ house is not even negotiable with your boyfriend, at least in the short-term. Your concerns about moving in are all valid, and so you need to decide how big of an issue this is for you compared to how you feel about your boyfriend and what goals you have for your relationship.

    Good luck, LW.

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  • Dave Jay June 27, 2011, 8:35 am

    Here’s the issue as I see it. As the “girlfriend”, you have no grounds (legal or otherwise) to make those demands… however reasonable they may be. As a fiance’, ah! Now you have a bargaining chip; and as a wife, you rule the roost so it doesn’t even matter what he thinks. Given that, your relationship has sadly developed into a “man vs. house” situation. While I don’t envy your position, the best you might be able to do is use this as a litmus test to see what kind of future husband he would be (some day) by observing how much he is willing to acknowledge your desires.

    I agree with Wendy about all the ownership issues. If the house is divided between siblings, your BF should be required to buy out the shares of the his siblings… even if they only charge him a dollar. This makes it HIS legally (and yours too if [a] you contribute or [b]co-sign the mortgage/loan).

    Sorry there isn’t much more to offer help wise. Sometimes you have to watch your own back and this is one of those times.

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    • callmehobo June 27, 2011, 10:12 am

      I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to marry someone for a reason other than the fact that you cannot see yourself living without that person…. I especially think it’s a bad idea to get married as some sort of bargaining chip or upper hand.

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      • Dave Jay June 27, 2011, 11:33 am

        I ABSOLUTELY did NOT suggest that she get married!!! I simply used that example to show how powerless she is as “the girlfriend”. There is only one good reason to get married and I assume everyone knows that.

      • callmehobo June 27, 2011, 12:07 pm

        I think that your sentence about being the fiance as a bargaining chip could be interpreted that way- I think it was a combination of internet tone-of-voice and a bit of poor wording choice…

        But honestly I was like- OMG I cannot believe Dave said that! It definitely seemed out of character with your views of marriage. However, sadly, I don’t think that anyone can assume that everyone knows that there is only one good reason to get married…. which is MONEY. LOTS O’ CASH. ANNA NICOLE SMITH FTW. /endsarcasm/

      • LTC039 June 27, 2011, 10:52 am

        Agreed x 1000!! That’s why the divorce rate in this country is uber high! People don’t build a proper foundation within their relationship before talking marriage, along with getting married for the wrong reasons. These people do NOT have the foundation needed for a lifetime together, at least not yet…

  • Amanda June 27, 2011, 8:41 am

    I agree with Wendy. Has your boyfriend and his sisters considered selling the house? Since your boyfriend will have to have his sisters’ agreement on any renovations to the house, they should probably just sell it. If selling it isn’t an option though, you are not “putting down his parents’ taste” by requesting these renovations. Frankly, the house sounds like it is in terrible condition and will need to be renovated at some point in the future anyway. If your boyfriend is not willing to consider major renovations of his parents’ old house NOW, you should find your own place to live. Why live in a house that will NEVER be your home?

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    caitie_didn't June 27, 2011, 9:02 am

    LW, DON’T DO IT! This will never be your home. It will be your boyfriend’s, while you just live there.

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    fast eddie June 27, 2011, 8:05 am

    A house is a house but a home is far more personal. You could negotiate this into something you could live with for the meantime and make the changes you want slowly. Remember that it’s integral to his history so change isn’t on his agenda. If he’s footing the bills let him have control of it. The co-ownership with his siblings complicate the issues and all of you should plan on a settlement. Several options are available, among them are keeping it in the family by renting it out and getting another place for the two of you. If he’s adamant about living there your going to be a guest for a very long time. The simplest solution would be to sell it and use the profit to buy your own place. Because you have to move from your current digs, living there temporarily is sensible and economically advantageous while they work out a settlement.

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    • Desiree June 27, 2011, 8:34 am

      Despite the economic advantage of moving into the house, I do NOT think that would work well for her, even temporarily. I think any problem solving and compromise about the house needs to occur *before* moving in. Once she and her guy are there, she will have lost the momentum for changing the circumstances. Any problem solving she attempts then would probably appear as nagging to the boyfriend. But, right now, she can say: “The current plan is unacceptable to me, and I am disinclined to move forward as is. How can we compromise?” She has more leverage right now.

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      • PFG-SCR June 27, 2011, 9:02 am

        “She has more leverage right now.”

        Actually, she would have had more leverage had she not agreed to sell their house that they’re currently living in, since she could at least stayed there until they agreed on a compromise or agreed that no compromise was possible.

      • spaceboy761 June 27, 2011, 9:21 am

        So true. That was a very odd decision.

      • Desiree June 27, 2011, 9:53 am

        I agree. I wonder if there was other motive surrounding that decision (financial, etc) than just moving into the parents’ house.

      • Bethany June 27, 2011, 9:58 am

        It sounded to me like the house the rented was sold and they were being forced to me- Not that she made an active3 decision to sell her house.

      • camille905 June 27, 2011, 10:22 am

        That’s what it sounds like to me too- her comment was not “we decided to sell it” or “we sold it” but “it has been sold”.

    • convexed June 27, 2011, 9:27 am

      Yeah, selling it and using the profit to buy a new place would be the simplest solution, but that’s not helpful when the letter makes it abundantly clear that the BF is obsessed with the house, intact, as is, to hold onto, and to live in. I think if he was willing to sell it, or even to reasonably discuss other options than becoming a live-in curator, the LW would not have needed to write to Dear Wendy.

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    • Kate June 27, 2011, 10:35 am

      If it were me, the number one issue would be the co-ownership. This occurred in my own family. Just because someone has a “beautiful home of their own” doesn’t mean they won’t see dollar signs when inheriting real estate. At the minimum, I would want to buy the sisters out.

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  • Addie Pray June 27, 2011, 9:05 am

    I assume by your letter that your boyfriend’s plan to move into his parents’ old house is for the long term, but is it? Because I could see it being a great way to save money for a few years until you decide as a couple where you want to settle. I think you’re over-thinking it. I would move into his parents’ old house and see how it goes. Maybe he and/or the house will surprise you. Considering you have to move out of your current house by October anyway, I would give it a shot. If you still feel the way you predict you’ll feel, you can move on. You’re in a good situation – you’re not married, you don’t have an investment in the house, YOU can do whatever you want! So move in, save your money, and then, if you don’t like the way things are going, move out and put your savings down on a sweet bachelorette pad.

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      Katie June 27, 2011, 10:31 pm

      that is such a good idea. she doesnt have a mortgage to pay attention to at the present moment. if it doesn’t work out, that will make it so so much easier. i mean she doesn’t even have a lease agreement to worry about!

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  • TheOtherMe June 27, 2011, 9:30 am

    What I found a bit strange is that he refers to “His” children, not “Their ” which gives an indication that this scenario is all about him regardless of if she’s in the picture or not.

    It’s quite the complicated situation, I am sort of in the same boat as you right now except that I have my own condo and my BF knows that if we ever decide to live together, it will mean we both sell our homes and start fresh somewhere where we can build on own history.

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    • Christy June 27, 2011, 9:36 am

      I would wager that these are children from a previous marriage.

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    • PFG-SCR June 27, 2011, 9:38 am

      “What I found a bit strange is that he refers to “His” children, not “Their ” which gives an indication that this scenario is all about him regardless of if she’s in the picture or not.”

      I assumed that he has children from a previous marriage or relationship, not with her. I think it’s pretty apparent that he’s not willing to consider her opinions on the house at all because it’s just a “family thing”, and he doesn’t consider her “family”.

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    • bluesunday June 27, 2011, 9:39 am

      I understood this to mean he has existing children from a previous marriage or something. That they’re not her children. She also makes it sound like the children currently want the house “someday” (if that makes sense), so they’re not hypothetical future children.

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      • LTC039 June 27, 2011, 10:29 am

        Same thing I gathered. Also, what about if they decide to have children of their own? Will they be included in the inheritance of the house? Idk, this guy sounds like he’s not too interested in a future with her…

  • artsygirl June 27, 2011, 9:38 am

    It sounds like you BF has been married before and already has a family since you mention his children – for me the most confusing part of this situation is that if your BF passes away the house automatically passes on to his kids. Seriously? So honestly no matter how much work and money you personally invest in this house, you are going to come out on the loosing end. How crappy is that – ‘hey honey I know we have been together for years and you moved into my parents’ house even though you never liked it, but now you are going to have to move out quickly because Jr. wants the house.’

    I would definitely sit down and speak with your BF and lay out all your concerns. What types of renovations is he willing to commit to (say bathrooms, kitchen, etc)? How is the family going to resolve the legal complexities of inheritance? Because while his sisters might not want the house now – who is to say that their children wont. Also, does he plan on putting you on the deed of ownership down the line – perhaps after marriage or a certain time period? There seems to be so many unresolved issues and you are getting steam rolled. But the path of least resistance is not always the best one so I would be proactive and make sure you have all your questions answered before you start packing boxes.

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  • spaceboy761 June 27, 2011, 9:43 am

    I think we need a lot more info from the LW here:

    Are the BF’s kids real or theoretical?
    Was the previous home bought or rented?
    How old is everybody and what is their income situation?
    How long have they been dating?

    This is more a financial issue and we kind of need some more information to make the right call. On the unfinancial side of things, the BF sounds like kind of peen.

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      caitie_didn't June 27, 2011, 9:54 am

      Also, what happens if they move into this house, and three years from now the LW gets a fantastic job offer in another city/state? Will the boyfriend be willing to move for her career? It doesn’t sound like it. What about if the LW decides she needs to be closer to her aging parents at some point in the future?

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    • NOLAGirl June 27, 2011, 10:53 am

      I would also want to know how long the parents have been gone. I will say as a person who lost a parent in my 20s, that it takes a while to be wiling to let some stuff go. After a few years, I was less attached to the “stuff” from my deceased parent. It could be that it’s a little soon for him to be willing to just let go of all the “memories.” But it could also be that he just doesn’t want to change anything and will never change. It could also be a part of the mourning process.

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      • Morgan June 27, 2011, 1:55 pm

        I agree with this completely. If his parents died last month or even last year, give the guy some time to process. He’s just lost his parents, and he’s holding onto this house as a way to hold onto them. And as he does move forward, the idea of renovations or even a move wouldn’t be such blasphemy. In which case I would talk to him but also give him time. If his parents died 5 years ago and his sisters didn’t move in because they had houses and he was in school away from home and so only now is it an issue (or whatever the case), that’s different, and I would recommend what Wendy said.

    • ReginaRey June 27, 2011, 10:51 am

      Agree with your peen assessment. He seems unwilling to fully consider her opinions or desires or needs, and if I were her I’d be asking how this will bleed over into all other aspects of her life. Will all of their major decisions as a couple be made by him? Will he support her personal goals and dreams, and sacrifice of her if it’s necessary? His stance on this major issue is making me answer all of those questions with a resounding “no.” I hope she doesn’t ignore the red flags.

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  • SGMcG June 27, 2011, 9:49 am

    LW, I’ve been where you’re at. When I first moved to live with my boyfriend (now husband), the house we lived in was his childhood home and my boyfriend was very happy with the state of it that he thought renovations would never be needed. However, some of the electronics in the home were so old that we couldn’t even charge a laptop to the outlet. When I expressed my concerns about the electronics, as well as my feeling that his childhood house would never be my home, my boyfriend gave me a room and said I could make it my own office. When I started decorating it to my liking, my boyfriend followed my lead and carried my renovations for the one room to the rest of the house.

    LW, I don’t think you should approach your boyfriend’s house from a renovation-decorator perspective immediately, rather approach it from the basic necessity angle. Frankly, I am surprised that if this is a house to be inherited, that nobody obtained third party evaluation of the home’s market value, let alone make sure that it’s in livable condition. Surely your boyfriend cannot object to making sure that the house is safe for you, him and his children? In particular, make sure the electrical wiring is up to par to accomodate all your electronics in every room (the polarizing three prong outlets, instead of the two prong ones), the paint isn’t lead based and test for asbestos and black mold. If the house hasn’t been renovated for as long as you said, the least your boyfriend could do is make sure that it is up to code.

    From there, if you have concerns about his childhood home becoming your own, approach him about at least having one room first to call your own. As the girlfriend, you may never really obtain joint tenancy in common over the property, but if your boyfriend wants a longer, more committed relationship to you, maybe he can offer a room to become your office? If he sees your decorating tastes, perhaps your boyfriend can then ask you to move them to the other areas of the house as well.

    Yet as it stands now – if you’re unhappy with the way he’s dictated over the situation, don’t move in. Frankly, I’m surprised that he sold the house that you were currently living in. Unless the house needed to be sold as per a divorce settlement, or so that his children could move to a better school district, the fact that he just sold the home you two were living in without any say from you really doesn’t speak well of him.

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  • Christina June 27, 2011, 10:17 am

    I think that some of the problems will just naturally work themselves out if you move into the house together. You will likely be moving some of your own furniture and interior decor in with you and maybe you can move most of the family pictures to an honored setting in a den or a hallway display and then have places for pics of you and your boyfriend together and some of your family items and photos. Once you are living in the house your boyfriend may be more relaxed and want to update a few things himself. He did say you two would fix it up a little. Appliances wear out, walls need to be repainted and any changes are worth it just to have a nice home together. Not every update or remodel is about recouping costs when a house sells. Most aren’t.
    I would say move in with him and see how it goes. I don’t think you can stop the train that is in motion but you can move in and keep money aside for another place for yourself if it comes to that. You may be able to build a nice home together in the old house. If anything happened to him later you probably wouldn’t want to stay in a huge family sized house anyway. Good luck!

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    • LTC039 June 27, 2011, 10:49 am

      “I think that some of the problems will just naturally work themselves out if you move into the house together.”

      IMO, it’ll make things worse. She has evident reservations about this house & he has a “I want it my way or no way” attitude. If anything, their issues will just be heightened-potential for a pretty nasty situation.

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    • ReginaRey June 27, 2011, 10:55 am

      I think that MAJOR mistakes get made when people say, “oh, it will work itself out.” Things rarely “work themselves out.” I would absolutely not advocate moving in with just the sheer hope that everything will end up fine. The way we avoid disastrous life mistakes is by being a bit more critical and discerning when making important life decisions. This would be true even if it were just a dispute about where to live. But given that this seems to be the tip of a more serious problem with balance of power in this relationship, it’s even more critical that she not assume everything will be dandy if she moves in.

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      • Addie Pray June 27, 2011, 11:16 am

        But it’s not like by moving in she will be stuck there forever. Everyone is predicting how terrible it will be and advising her not to move in … an frankly, it could be just as bad or worse than she thinks. But there’s no reason why she can’t move in now and then move out later if she doesn’t like it. If anything, she’ll be more secure in her decision if she moves in and then decides to move out. If she moves on now without even giving it or her boyfriend a shot, she could always wonder “what if.”

      • LTC039 June 27, 2011, 11:31 am

        We’re not suggesting she just leave in the middle of the night w/o any word. She has to talk things out with her bf first. But, from the information given & the tone of her letter, we are concluding (soley by her letter) that her bf isn’t interested in her feelings or needs, which is NOT the way a healthy relationship runs.
        We don’t really know all the facts bc a) we don’t know them/him & b) there’s a lot of missing info in this letter. However, in general, yes, it’s not so much a big deal for her legally/financially…but in respect to their relationship it is. & by her putting her foot down now, she’ll be able to determine whether or not this relationship has lifetime potential or is a MOA situation…

      • LTC039 June 27, 2011, 11:34 am

        Let me add that I’m refrencing her current situation…It WILL be a big legal/financial issue if she invests money in the house without having any ownership over it.

      • ReginaRey June 27, 2011, 11:42 am

        I tend to think that moving in will make it MUCH harder to leave later on. Moving is an arduous process, and once you get somewhere it can become difficult to leave for a whole host of reasons. Not to mention the difficulties of moving out if her boyfriend doesn’t want her to, putting money into a house she doesn’t own, etc. It’s much, much safer to avoid the problems altogether and move somewhere she DOES want to live.

  • LTC039 June 27, 2011, 9:22 am

    I’m wondering about the fact that you guys sold a home you clearly did not want to sell. Was it solely bc your boyfriend wanted to move into his parents house? That’s what I’m getting from this letter. If that’s the case, it doesn’t seem like you have too much say in this relationship & if you move in with your boyfriend to his parent’s house, your voice will be heard less & less. So don’t let that happen LW, stand your ground! Talk with your boyfriend, tell him all the reasons you don’t want to move in to his parents house.
    If he can’t compromise with you, then that’s a pretty big sign that marriage with this guy, or any long-term relationship is going to be his way or the highway. Do you really want to be living in the shadow of your boyfriend for the rest of your life? Please, take the highway! If you don’t do it now, it’ll only get worse.

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      Wendy June 27, 2011, 9:38 am

      I just want to point out that it’s unclear by the letter whether the LW and her boyfriend owned the house they currently live in, or if they were merely renters whose landlord/landlady sold the house and gave them a move-out date. If it is the former, then I totally agree with what you’re saying, but if it’s the latter, then it’s not so clear-cut.

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      • LTC039 June 27, 2011, 9:42 am

        You’re right. I just re-read it & it says “it has been sold.” So it’s not so clear on whether they owned it or rented. For her sake, I hope it is what you pointed out…

      • TheOtherMe June 27, 2011, 9:44 am

        We need more info !

      • Maracuya June 27, 2011, 9:48 am

        And ‘by the house they lived in,’ did the boyfriend own it solely? Then the letter writer really couldn’t have done anything herself.

  • Mainer June 27, 2011, 10:24 am

    Man. There is SO much information you need to find out BEFORE you write in for advice. Get more specifics from your BF. The fact that he says he doesn’t want to put a lot of money into the house because it won’t be worth the value suggests he doesn’t see himself living there for a long time. Why else be concerned about the value? Or would it be for when he hands the house down? Is that his definite plan, or is he unsure how he is going to proceed? You talk about his kids getting the house if something happens to him as if something is going to happen to him tomorrow. Of course they would get it. Why would you even want it? If he is planning on handing it down, when? How old are his kids? Are they near an age where they may want to buy a home? Would your BF consider selling the home to one of his kids, or would they only inherit it if he died? Who is the executor of his parents Will? Is it him or one of his sisters? What about his sisters and their lack of interest in the house? Does he plan on legally taking over their interest? If not, why? Does he see himself living here for the rest of your lives? If so, why does he have no interest in increasing it’s value?

    TALK TO HIM. Find out his plans. Ask him where you fall into everything. Engage in a dialogue to find out what his intentions with the house are. Trying to guess what he is going to do is stupid, you need to talk with him to figure it out. If his commitment to the house is higher than his commitment to you, then there’s an issue. If the house thing is only temporary then you need to decide if you can push it out for a few years while he gets the place in order. His parents died, there are a lot of loose ends to tie up. Don’t make this about you, but find out where you fit in to everything and let him know your concerns.

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  • kdog June 27, 2011, 10:24 am

    This guy is so tied up in his past that he can’t create a future with you. Definitely look in to a bachelorette pad. This will lead to countless and unending arguments.

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    • Mainer June 27, 2011, 10:35 am

      well, I think it’s also important to consider when his parents died. If this was recent, of course he is going to be sentimental about the place. If my parents died I’d probably tell myself I wanted to keep everything they owned and get all sentimental too. But after a year I’d probably be thinking “man, I need to get rid of a lot of this shit” and want to move on with my life. If he’s still in the grieving stage of his parents death then it’s inappropriate and selfish for her to leave him because he wasn’t thinking all about her.

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      • Fairhaired Child June 28, 2011, 3:31 am

        I completely agree! When my grandmother died, my mom got a lot of “boxes of who knows what” and we put most of it in the attic. It was only 3 years later that my mom was finally able to say “why do we have those boxes” and go through them and put things either in better containers with more lables (ie “valuable china from grandma __ – sell when I die”, “you are not allowed to sell this, its been in the family for generations” etc) or get rid of most of it.

        It took her a long time just to be able to LOOK at the stuff and consider doing anything with it rather than keep it because it was her parents. The BF in this case may feel the same way, and it may take him a while to finally go through everything (even if he “goes through it” now) and say “we dont really need that I dont even remember why THEY had it.”

  • RMM0278 June 27, 2011, 10:42 am

    Based on your letter, I get the impression you’re just a tiny puzzle piece in this guy’s life.

    All legalities aside (but they are extremely important), consider what he’s asking you to do. He wants you to uproot your life to live in a house on his terms where you have no say in any major, life-changing decision. And he wants you to be okay with the terms that he has given to you without soliciting or caring about any feedback from you.

    Think about that.

    Does he always do whatever he wants and expects you to be okay with it? Does he usually expect you to conform to his goals and dreams? Because honestly such an egregious request sounds like he’s done something similar before. Furthermore, he doesn’t even sound like a very nice person.

    I don’t know, LW, that doesn’t sound like any sort of life I’d want to have with someone. You’re not an equal life partner; you’re like an employee who gets to be told what to do.

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  • Yozi June 27, 2011, 11:20 am

    I don’t think the LW is ever going to get her boyfriend to make the renovations on this house that she probably wants. If he’s sentimentalizing everything down to the 70s carpets then you are going to have to fight him on *every* thing. “Do we throw out this extremely tacky lampshade?” “But it reminds me of the time…”This will go on forever. I think the LW should take a serious look at her life and ask herself if she thinks he’s worth it. Worth living in a dusty, uncomfortable house that she will probably spend thousands of hours of work on to make it livable and then that house will be inherited by this guy’s children or his sisters or she’ll get thrown out when they breakup. Lw, I don’t know you, but I bet you deserve better than this, because basically everyone does. I wouldn’t marry this guy either. Not right now. Show him that you have some self respect and that you’re interested in investing in YOUR future. If your getting older and you have no security except this man, you need to work on grabbing a piece for yourself, because it doesn’t sound like your boyfriend is looking out for you.

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  • Valerie June 27, 2011, 11:21 am

    All other things considered, if you are still trying to decide whether or not to proceed with moving into the boyfriend’s house, I would definitely recommend sitting down with a lawyer to go over all the legal aspects of the situation, especially since the two sisters are involved. Discuss how things would change if you and your boyfriend were to get married. I might meet first on your own, and then have a meeting with your boyfriend included, because you have to look out for yourself legally. If your boyfriend resists, or doesn’t care how this situation will affect you legally, it might be time to think about M-ingOA. I think a lawyer might help bring some clarity to this situation, and may help make the decision easier for the LW.

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  • MissD June 27, 2011, 11:26 am

    I agree, but also agree we need more information, as spelled out by Spaceboy and NOLAgirl. For me, deciding how much of a jerk the BF is being depends on knowing where he is in the grieving process. It’s hard to make a judgement call without knowing the details of their situation. I hope we get an update.

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    • spaceboy761 June 27, 2011, 11:31 am

      I agree with you agreeing with me.

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  • missarissa June 27, 2011, 11:45 am

    There are TONS of legal issues regarding property that normal people (aka people who aren’t forced to sit in a room for 2 days with 3000 of their closest friends trying to pass some sort of “bar”) don’t have any idea about (nor would they want to). This deals with the dreaded “Rule against perpetuties”, which is one of the most diffucult to understand and apply, and most annoyingly archaic, features of our current legal system.

    It sounds to me like the BF (and his siblings) were not left the house outright. They inherited something called a “life estate”, which means, for as long as they are alive, they own the house. But after they die, the BF’s parents have ALREADY decided who gets it– grandkids (which is why she says “his” kids, not “their” kids. This also means that the BF (and his siblings) cannot sell the house outright, to a buyer, like normal. They can only sell what they have — which is a life estate. That means, that if someone buys the house from them(person X), Person X NO LONGER OWNS IT after the BF (or his siblings) die. Not exactly an ideal buying situation.

    So this is probably a really tough situation. Even if the BF buys out the siblings, he still can never really sell the property for a profit, because future grandkids who aren’t even born yet, already own the house after he dies. Super annoying. And he’s right, they get NO equity from improving the house. Also not ideal. . Not very nice of the parents to make it this complicated, but apparently, the parents felt equally strong about this house, and didn’t want it leaving the family for a whole generation. The best bet would be to rent it out and buy another house, that they own completely, together.

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    • missarissa June 27, 2011, 11:47 am

      Of course, this is NOT LEGAL ADVICE. Its just an opinion. And of course, LW and anyone else reading, should always consult their own lawyers before making any decisions, ever.

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    • WatersEdge June 27, 2011, 2:35 pm

      Interesting and good to know, in a completely non-legal-advice way. If this is the case, it does explain the LW’s boyfriend’s behavior.

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  • El June 27, 2011, 12:11 pm

    Honestly, this sounds like the backstory of an episode of Hoarders.

    I get it. A loss in the family is devastating. A timeline would be incredibly useful here. Did the BF’s parents just pass? Or have they been gone for years? Either way, its not normal to hang onto ancient kitchen appliances and outdated shag carpeting solely for its sentimental value.

    I think therapy or grief counseling would be extremely useful for LW’s BF. Hopefully he’s already been utilizing such services.

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    Skyblossom June 27, 2011, 1:24 pm

    I know two couples who are in a similar situation. The first is my sister-in-law. She owns her own home but is living in her boyfriend’s home. He owns his home jointly with his brother because they inherited it and he has two grown daughters. He has wanted her to sell her house and put the money from the sale into his house. She has adamantly refused and would leave him before doing that. The money that is used on his house is his money. She is renting her house and making some extra income that way.

    The second couple is my uncle and his live-in-girlfriend. They are both in their upper 60s and both have grown children from previous marriages. His children will inherit what he owns and her children will inherit what she owns. They live in his house and she purchased a property that she split into three lots and has built three small houses and she is renting all three houses. The cost of improvements on his house are his and the cost of her houses are hers. Her rental income is all hers and she is planning to use it as retirement income.

    Both couples have redecorated and taken the wants of both partners into account when doing so. I think you could do something similar. All upgrades and improvements on his house should be paid for by him alone but you should be included in the look if you live there but don’t own it. You can buy your own property or save until you can buy your own property and then rent. This will give you extra income and the cost of maintenance on your property would be yours alone. If the two of you broke up you would have your own place to live once the rental contract was up. Absolutely, don’t invest your money in a house that you will never own. That is giving your money away and you won’t see it again. Only invest in something where your name is on the title and then only invest your fair share.

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  • WatersEdge June 27, 2011, 2:58 pm

    Don’t do it!!! You will feel suffocated in that house. Your boyfriend should not be asking this of you. You can’t ask someone to live in a shrine to your parents which hasn’t been remodeled in years. And if his kids are getting the house, what favors is he doing them by leaving them a house which hasn’t been remodeled in 70 years, versus 40 years? Even if he can’t sell it… update the damn house! I would absolutely refuse to move there under those circumstances. Honestly, I would never under any circumstances move into a home that I would be evicted from upon my SO’s death. Is this the case even if you get married? (Complexities like this are why gay marriage should be legal- there are lots of times where just living together gets you nothing!). I generally wouldn’t advocate for a marriage talk, but I think you need to figure that piece out. Your boyfriend needs to understand what a difficult position he is putting you in. To invest your time, money, and energy into a home only to have no claim to it is completely unfair and it’s a terrible move for you on a financial level. He should want to protect you too in all this. Don’t move in with him until he eases up on the stringent terms of the agreement.

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  • LW June 27, 2011, 3:59 pm

    Lot’s of great feedback. His kids are 21 and 24 years old. One is in college out of state and one has graduated and is working and attending a trade school out of state. The home we live in now we rented for almost three years and then bf bought in April. The house was never in my name although he had said he would put it in my name too. Last month a friend approached him to ask if and when our house was for sale please let them know. Their son and his wife wanted to buy it. Because my bf wanted to move into his parents empty home he called and they worked out a deal. We are both in our fifties. His children are from a previous marriage. This November we will have been together for four years.

    My bf is planning to buy out his sister’s interest in the home. His Dad died five years ago but his Mom past away just this past October. They want to keep the house because the land was purchased by their grandfather and the home was built by their parents and has many happy memories. They do not need the money and my bf’s son would like this house someday(if he moves back here). Think of this like the Kennedy compound. They will keep this house in the family forever! It is a huge home where they entertained often and even lend the house out for special functions to throw parties. The grounds are beautiful and their are some beautiful antiques.

    My bf says maybe twenty years down the road we would probably move somewhere else. My worry is if something happened to him I am out in the cold. No matter how long I live in this house it will never be mine. And what about the furniture and stuff we fill the house with? Who gets this if something happens to BF or we split up? Of course I am not talking about his mom and dad’s stuff but the things we have accumulated and will continue to. A friend’s mom lived with her boyfriend for many years and while at his funeral the children had her locked out of their home! His children are the benefiaries of his estate. I am not saying this will happen to me but it scares me. I will have no financial interest in this home. At present I pay all utilities, groceries, etc. BF pays mortgage and gives me money every month. He is generous in that way. Once I move into parents home I will not pay any bills. I could never afford the utilities there. We have hired a decorator to draw up plans to remodel this home. We are far apart as to changes to be made however, hopefully the most important rooms will be redone-kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom and living room.

    For those of you who brought up marriage-that is a whole other issue. I want to get married and he does not. He went through a bitter divorce. When we met he has separated. He talked about marriage then so I believed that we would get married otherwise I would have never moved in together. Now, he says there is no reason for a man to remarry and he is happy the way things are. He also says he doesn’t think his children are ready. Maybe in a few years! My dad is 89 years old and I would like him to be at my wedding. I have never been married and I am old fashioned and want to be. I know there are no guarantees but sometime you just have to have faith.

    I know I should find my own place but I love him. I also remember living alone and I wasn’t happy. My BF loves me and we have a good life and lot’s of friends. I giving a great deal of thought to getting my own place. I know he cares more about himself and his children welfare than mine. He did say if we brake up he will buy me a home. Should I get that in writing?

    Thanks for listening and feedback.
    Ghosts in the attic

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    • spaceboy761 June 27, 2011, 4:35 pm

      So long as you’re essentially living there for free, you’re in no position to call the financial shots. In terms of remodeling and redecoratoring, you can ask, influence, nudge, and hint, but it will still be your BF’s decision on everything.

      On the flip side, FREE FUCKING HOUSE!!! If you’re working, you can stash away a lot of money pretty quickly with zero housing costs and have that be your breakup fund. If you break up or his kids somehow calim the house, that’s your safety net. In terms of his promise to buy you a house in case of a breakup, I have no idea how a contract contending on the breakup of a non-marital realtionship would work. Maybe you could pursue a civil union or some other arrangement? I’m not sure since I have no background in law. Having a background in finance however, I would stash away as much money as you can as a reliable plan B here. As far as the assets brought into the home, most co-habiting couples have a ‘you bought it, you keep it’ policy. If you have merged incomes and finances, this gets really sticky. FWIW, I would not merge finances with someone to whom I am not married, even including gay realtionships not in NY (suck it bigots!) or another state that recognizes gay marriage. It pains me to say that, but the financial laws are seriously stacked against the unmarried in these situations. This goes for the LW or anyone else.

      This is a comfort of living vs. finance issue for you, and there’s no wrong answer.

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      Skyblossom June 27, 2011, 4:54 pm

      As for the furniture, if it isn’t in writing with signatures saying that it is yours then don’t spend any of your own money on it. If his kids will own everything in the house then don’t spend your money on anything in the house. If he wants to put you in a position where you own nothing then he must accept that he pays for everything. Consider visiting a good financial planner and discuss what you can do with your own money that will allow you to take care of yourself in your retirement.

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    • sarolabelle June 27, 2011, 4:14 pm

      I think you need a lawyer to advise you on what will happen to you if something happens to your boyfriend. Then maybe the lawyer can write some legal documents that will specifically say that legally this is what will happen to you.

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    • DiDo June 27, 2011, 5:47 pm

      I understand why HE does not want to get married. He clearly has assets that he would like to protect and he already enjoys all of the benefits of married life. But it sounds like you need both the emotional and financial security that comes with marriage. If he can not give that to you, why would you stay?

      If he is unable to commit, there is a good chance that things may not last forever. And you can bet your bottom dollar that if you actually do break up, he is not going to be as generous as he says he will. And say things do work out but he predeceases you. Again, you will be in a very vulnerable situation. So if you can live without the emotional security related to being married, you definitely need to see a lawyer so that you have some financial rights as a partner.

      Ideally, you can become more financially secure, independent from him. But either way, protect yourself.

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    • LTC039 June 27, 2011, 6:18 pm

      Ok, your bf sounds like a male chauvinist type. Gives you an allowance, told you he’ll buy you a house if you guys break up? Idk, I’m getting the vibe that your boyfriend just has you in his life just cause. It doesn’t sound like you’re even in his top 10 of priorities.
      You’ve never been married & you really want to be. He says no. So that’s ok? Do you really want to look back at your life & see all the things you gave up just because HE didn’t want/wanted it?
      “My bf says maybe twenty years down the road we would probably move somewhere else.”

      20 years is a loooooong time to live in a house that is not yours, that you don’t want to live in to begin with! That’s almost an entire mortgage!

      I really think you should re-evaluate your relationship & yourself right now. If you really can’t leave him, then yeah Spaceboy’s advice would be the smartest route…But is your happiness worth it?

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    • PFG-SCR June 27, 2011, 11:22 pm

      Well, after you’ve provided more background, I’m somewhat confused by what you’re really asking – you originally ask whether you should move in with him, but based on this update, you have no interest in _not_ living with him. Now it seems like you’re more concerned about what happens to you once he dies or you break up.

      Since you’ll be paying nothing while you’re living there in his parents’ home, I’d save as much of your income as possible. If you don’t already, work with a financial advisor to invest that money to balance risk and return, based on your age, current assets and income. I think you can assume that your boyfriend is never going to marry you (based on what you’ve shared), and I’m sure part, if not all, of the reason he doesn’t intend to is because of the legal implications to his assets, so that should be an indication to you about his financial goals and plans. Therefore, you need to look out for yourself and just anticipate that you’ll be likely paying for your own housing at some point and funding your own retirement. If it happens where he provides for you in the case of his death or your break up, then you’ve got a nice unexpected gift. But all of his promises now mean nothing unless it gets drawn up into a legal document.

      It seems like an unbalanced relationship in terms of decision making and financial contribution – I think these two are directly related. In his mind, he’s going to have the upper hand because it’s “his house”, “his money”, etc. While there is nothing wrong with you agreeing to live under this arrangement, you have to realize that you’ll likely lose any battle where you have differing opinions, no matter what the battle is about.

      The bottom line is that you already seem to have agreed to this, and now, you just need to be smart about your assets and if possible, get him to provide for you in his last will and testament and/or some other legal document stipulating what financial benefits you get in case of a break up. But, I’m guessing he’ll be resistant to drawing up anything legal with respect to either of those scenarios.

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    • Kate June 27, 2011, 11:27 pm

      Do you really believe if you break up, he will purchase a home for you? He doesn’t want to marry you, and you think he cares more about his and his children’s welfare than yours, so why would he pay to buy you a house?

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  • Yozi June 27, 2011, 4:26 pm

    Ok, so I’m a little biased because I watched my grandfather hem and haw about marrying his girlfriend of 15 years. She’s more of a grandmother to me than my bio grandmom ever was. She rightly, was worried that she would grow old with him, & he would die and everything would go to his children and she would be out in the cold. He did marry her a few years ago, although begrudgingly. Now she’s trying to get him to buy a house with her and he’s uneasy about that. Anyway, I see this so often it makes me queasy. An older guy who is perfectly content to get what he can out of a woman, but not treat her with real respect . So he had a bad divorce. Big frickin deal. You are not his ex-wife. & He’s is not James Bond BTW, not even close. O and his kids are ADULTS. In what way aren’t they ready for their Dad to get married? I think it’s time to cut the cord, hello. Anyway, as far as bargaining goes I don’t know if you have any chips so to speak. Older men who are comfortable in their ways are hard to change. But I recommend you look out for yourself in whatever way you can. Because as I said before it doesn’t sound like he’s looking out for you. If you move in to his house, put all the money you save on rent into a savings account. & Don’t put your stock in this guy until he’s shown you that he deserves it.

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    Pankakez June 27, 2011, 9:23 pm

    Wow, this hit kind of close to home, pun partially intended. About a year ago, my husband’s parents moved when my father-in-law got a new job. We owned (still own) a condo near their house but had been in it for about three years and were looking to upgrade. We agreed to buy their house if they couldn’t sell it by the time their contract was up with their realtor. They agreed to let us live there and pay rent until we could sell our condo.
    Everything looked peachy-keen on the surface, it seemed to be a win-win situation, but after living there for about six weeks, the rose-colored glasses started to crack and I realized how uncomfortable I felt in that house – with one of the core reasons being that it would never feel like ‘my’ home, it would always be my in-laws’ (they still own it!). I also re-crunched the numbers and found that while yes, we can afford it, it was near the upper limit of what we can afford, making it hard to save for the future.
    I tried to talk to my husband about it but it became quickly clear that his mind was made up. I am a “choose your battles” kind of person and this was not a battle I was going to win. We still live there, still renting because we could not sell our condo without taking a financial hit (yay recession) and had to rent it out instead. I still have a love/hate relationship with the house – I’ve tried to ‘make it work’ and find something to call mine, but some days it’s a struggle to even care about keeping the house clean. I often check out real estate sites looking for better houses – I have something like 25 saved listings that I’m watching. The good news is, he’s open to the idea of moving when (A) we both find permanent, stable work and (B) the condo is out of our hands – and we’re both working on A and B this summer, so maybe I won’t have to be stuck coping with a house I can’t love for too much longer.

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