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AIBU if I don’t want to go in on a house with my IL’s?

(119 Posts)
CanucksoontobeinLondon Wed 16-Oct-13 17:44:08

We’re moving to London next year. A few days ago my in-laws came up with a proposal. They would sell a rental property they own and put the money into our new house. It wouldn’t be a gift, it would be a long-term investment for them. Well, it would be a gift of a kind, because they wouldn’t be getting any rental income from our property while we’re in it, they’d just be getting their share back if/when we sell in future.

My initial reaction was No. Frelling. Way. I’ve heard way too many horror stories over the years about family going in on real estate together, and it all ending in tears. Or worse, in court. Don’t get me wrong, my IL’s are nice people, but this could go so wrong. They’ve always been very hands-off in the past, but they’ve always been an ocean away, so they haven’t had the opportunity to be hands-on. They offered to help out with school fees after we move, and are already starting to take a proprietary interest in which schools we pick. Plus, years ago when DH and I bought our first apartment, my parents gave us a gift of money towards the deposit. And then felt they should be consulted about every swatch of paint that went into that apartment.

DH’s initial reaction was that I was turning down a good idea, and his parents are much more reasonable than my parents were (thanks, DH). However, we talked it over, and eventually both agreed that it was a bad idea. Partly because he has two siblings, and neither of them has been offered this deal as far as we know. This could lead to serious resentment by his sibilings. There were just too many variables we wouldn’t be able to control, as well, in terms of what if IL’s get into financial difficulties in future and need their share back (it’s not especially likely, but anything’s possible). DH politely turned IL’s down yesterday, and this morning MIL was on the phone in floods of tears, talking about how ungrateful we’re being. DH is now wavering. He hates to upset his mother.

I am even more against it than I was before. I don’t want to go into business with someone who’s going to burst into tears when they don’t get what they want. DH is also wavering, I suspect, because even though he’ll be making more money at the new job, given property prices in London, he’s effectively taking a paycut to move. We’re in one of the most expensive real estate markets in Canada, but it’s a drop in the ocean compared to London. My attitude is okay, we don’t get to live exactly where we want, and we don’t get as big a house as we have now, so what? At least we keep our independence. I’d only consider it if we were in dire straits, which we’re not. The whole point of the move is so the kids will be close to the extended family they have left. (My parents have both passed away, and I was an only child) What’s the point of moving if we might end up not on speaking terms with his family within a few years?

I’m concocting doomsday scenarios here, I know. AIBU, and if not, how do I convince DH to stand fast? I’m posting this on lunch and then going into meetings, then making the DCs their dinner, so I likely won’t be able to respond for quite a while, unless one of my meetings gets cancelled. But thanks in advance for your replies. I will be reading them.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Wed 23-Oct-13 01:02:01

Well, to be fair to BIL, he did initially keep quiet about it, precisely because he wanted to avoid being a grinch. It was only when matters escalated and something much more unfair was in the offing that it all came spilling out. We'd rather know now than in a year or two. And it can't be easy, feeling like the less favoured son because you've chosen not to have kids.

ColderThanAWitchsTitty Tue 22-Oct-13 21:17:14

I think you have made the right decision but I do think BIL is being a bit grinchy about PIL giving you school fees... because they wouldn't really be doing it for you they would be doing it for their grandchildren

It's like saying they can never give them gifts because then BIL is missing out (btw I totally understand you refusing PIL because you don't want outside influence) I just think BIL should have kept schtunm about it

CanucksoontobeinLondon Tue 22-Oct-13 21:03:25

Thanks guys. I think it's resolved now. DH got nice emails from both his sibs. And apparently FIL phoned both SIL and BIL to apologize to them.

IrisWildthyme Tue 22-Oct-13 10:33:52

Did anyone link to this thread already for an example of how it can go horribly wrong?

Both my PIL and my own parents have been generous but also careful to only ever offer anything that they are in a position to do equally for all their children. We did get help when we bought out first house, but it has always been made very clear in writing exactly what was a gift and what was a loan and what would be repaid when. Well done OP for steering clear of the emotional trauma that this could have led to.

EldritchCleavage Tue 22-Oct-13 10:17:40

That's good to hear Canuck. And with luck and some bridge-building there is no reason why, once you are in London, your DH's relationships with his siblings shouldn't improve. With closeness you get more chance to see them without involving PIL.

Beastofburden Tue 22-Oct-13 10:10:15

And Canuck- good luck, and welcome to London! I hope that with all this stress you are able still to look forward to coming to what is a lovely, welcoming and interesting place.

Beastofburden Tue 22-Oct-13 09:59:49

Cash gifts can work. We had significant financial help from our ILs- cash to fund a house deposit and then help with school fees. The key was that the GP gave the same to the other brother- for instance, over two years we repaid half the deposit loan, and then they wrote the second half off and used what we had repaid them to give it to the brother, thus making it fair.

Our GP school fees help was a mixture of early legacy and cash gifts to the sibs.

My own sister has had significant financial help from my mother to help her and her DH buy their home, as they earn much less than we do and couldn't manage without it. My mother is very worried about this and refers to it whenever we discuss wills, etc, saying I must make sure I take the extra back when she dies.

What I dont say to my mum is (a) inflation will mean that it will be unfair anyway by then, as she is just talking about the original sum and (b) I don't think she will have much to leave us, if she ever needs nursing care. Actually, if my sister ends up with more cash overall, I am not fussed. Especially as she has no kids and I expect will leave her house, when she eventually dies, to my kids.

But the key I think is that all of this was openly and fairly discussed and agreed between all the sibs before any decision was taken.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Mon 21-Oct-13 23:17:38

Wise words indeed, Sibyl. Particularly because as an only child I have no personal experience in having to get along with siblings or share my parents with them.

I don’t think we will end up asking for the school fee money to be taken out of DH’s eventual inheritance, although it’s a very good idea in theory. We have a feeling we won’t be given a free hand in terms of school choice if we’re using PILs’ money, and we don’t want to make a decision re: schools by committee. Plus, I’m not convinced a private school is necessarily the best thing for DS.

This whole big family thing erupting may well have been a blessing in disguise. For one thing it’s cleared the air, and means we’re not going to have DH’s sibs silently resenting an unequal situation. For another, FIL at least seems genuinely shaken up by this eruption. Finally, it’s gotten me to look closely at whether a private school is indeed going to serve DS well with his SEN, or whether he might be better off in a good state primary. And if we find a good state primary for him, there’s no reason DD couldn’t thrive there too. So we have a lot to think about. Thanks again.

Slipshodsibyl Mon 21-Oct-13 18:53:49

The longest relationship you will ever be likely to have is the one you have with siblings. I have seen many families estranged through money. It is always a great shame.

I don't think the parents who caused the estrangement ever thought it would happen. They seem to think their children are so close they will be in full agreement with their decisions and the losers are frightened of appearing greedy if they object. Things are usually different where there is real need wihin a family of course. In our society, money equals value.

I think that writing early inheritance gifts into a will is perfectly reasonable if agreed by all.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Mon 21-Oct-13 17:02:03

Hi Sibyl, thank you for your honesty. It wasn’t a whole lot of fun to read, but it was necessary. I guess on a subconscious level I was kind of thinking, “If BIL hadn’t kicked up a fuss we wouldn’t have had all this kerfuffle.” Which is totally unfair to him. And it’s far better for him to kick up a fuss now than to sit on it and then have it all come out in a year or so. I guess I do tend to instinctively take DH’s part, and I need to be aware of that, aware that I’m not an objective observer but an interested party.

To be fair to DH and me, this is the first time there’s been the financial sort of favouritism. And you’re right, we could’ve handled it better. We’ll certainly know better for next time (hopefully there is no next time).

Slipshodsibyl Mon 21-Oct-13 12:23:42

Coincidentally there is a current thread about just this kind of thing.
You and DH are not entirely innocent parties in this and i am irritated by the criticism of bill.

Despite earlier family tensions over favouritism (i assume financial?) you were seriously thinking of accepting a sum for fees that would leave no change from 500 000 pounds and help with housing. Your refusal initially was to do with not wanting parental interference rather than fair treatment of siblings. Your sil is possible more angry with you than you realise. If she displays her anger, she is probably aware you will dismiss her feelings as histrionic, and claim she has a chip on her shoulder as you have bil's.

You have said your family is dysfunctional and now you feel your DH s are too. It might be enlightening to examine your own roles in the family dynamics?

Beastofburden Mon 21-Oct-13 09:20:13

<terrible typing, I need tea>

Beastofburden Mon 21-Oct-13 09:19:20

No, I think flowers make sense.

the MIL is having to come to terms with the fact that her little dream is not going to happen. She is also having to realise that her favouritism has been noticed by her other kids and has caused them hurt.

It may well be her own fault but that doesnt mean she wont be feeling bruised and uphappy. You dont need to try to reinforce that message- she is getting it loud and clear from the other kids in any case.

By sending flowers, and by making the refusal about fairness to other sibs, what you are saying is that this is not a personal rejection. I think that is very sensible and will pave the way for a caring relationship, but one with clear boundaries, rather than a family fued.

Being kind is almost never wasted. You have set very clear boundaries, being kind will not undermine them. If anything, it gives her an horourable exit and a way to accept them.

NynaevesSister Mon 21-Oct-13 06:54:34

If you are moving to SW London do you need to go private? The schools there are all pretty good.

Bogeyface Mon 21-Oct-13 01:45:36

Why send flowers? That panders to her hysterics. "Thanks but no thanks" really is enough!

CanucksoontobeinLondon Mon 21-Oct-13 01:37:11

About 4 hours ago, i should've said. 1.5 hours would have been far too late. And we're sending more flowers.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Mon 21-Oct-13 01:18:22

To be fair to DH, he didn't so much "give in" as come to see it on his own. He usually gets there in the end, he just spends a lot of time analyzing things before he makes a final decision.

I had to laugh at not putting salt and vinegar on BIL's chip: so true! DH and I both think he'll settle down now. DH called his parents about 1.5 hours ago and told them. As predicted they were not particularly happy, and his mom cried. Hopefully they'll settle down too.

That's a good idea re: the thread in Education. I already put one up a couple of weeks ago but that was only about private primary schools, and was fairly vague about where in SW London. We've since narrowed things down somewhat geographically. Thanks!

Thumbwitch Mon 21-Oct-13 00:36:01

I think that's the best way forward, Canuck, glad your DH has "given in" on the school fees point. Your BIL might have a chip on his shoulder but there's no need for anyone else to add salt and vinegar to it, although he should at least attempt to be a little grown up about it and realise it is NOT your DH's fault - hopefully your DH's refusal to accept the money will help him with that.

Perhaps you could start a thread in Education on here (or Chat if you need more traffic) asking about schools in the area to which you will be moving - it might help you and your DH in making the decision between state and private, or at least give you better insight into the provisions and differences. Including the exact postcode you need to be aiming for to get the best of both worlds! smile

Slipshodsibyl Sun 20-Oct-13 22:18:01

Or you could consider whether your family would look kindly on the isea that you accept some financial help towards school fees ( if that is what you feel you want for your children) but have it legally written into your pils will so that you receive that amount less upon their death.

Herisson Sun 20-Oct-13 20:10:56

You know what, Canuck? If you choose your house carefully in SW London (take local advice, visit the schools in person and check the council website for maps of distance offers), your children could be having a perfectly decent education entirely free of charge. I went to a SW London private school, but I think education has changed loads since I was young and my daughter is currently in state education, doing really well and I have no plans to alter that at secondary level unless things change massively in the next few years. We are in Richmond, in case that was one of the areas you might be considering. The local SEN provision is generally quite good from what I have heard. DD's (much) older friend who has ASD recently moved up to secondary school and is doing wonderfully - really happy and has been looked after quite incredibly well.

Good luck. I think you are doing the right thing.

IHaveA Sun 20-Oct-13 18:48:21

At least everything is out in the open. It's much better for everyone to be open about their feelings even if it's a bit awkward.

Your BIL has done nothing wrong by saying he would be irritated if your in-laws paid the school fees. Although, of course, your in laws are allowed to spend their money on whatever they wish.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Sun 20-Oct-13 17:40:21

OK, update time. After much discussion, we've decided to turn down the school fees offer.

SIL is okay with PIL paying, but warned us to expect some well-intended interference on the subject of school choice. BIL is not okay, feels it's very unfair that we'd be getting this substantial financial help, especially when DH makes more money than he does.BIL knew about the school fees offer before the property offer, but kept his mouth shut about his feelings at the time, not wanting to be a grinch. He is no longer keeping his mouth shut, in the aftermath of the property offer debacle. It would become a perpetual grievance, and ultimately, DH is not prepared to torpedo his (already fragile) relationship with his only brother over it.

Furthermore, we know our kids best, and we can't be sure PIL will butt out and let us choose the right school(s). And we don't want to be beholden to them, but rather to have a relationship of equals. I am playing Lady Macbeth in the background, urging DH to screw his courage to the sticking point and face his mom's tears when he politely turns it down. He's inevitably going to upset her sometimes, especially when we're living in the same time zone and seeing more of each other, so he needs the practice!

The state v. private debate goes on, and I have no idea when or how it will be resolved.

I'm feeling a bit disgruntled, because we had a babysitter last night, and basically spent all of our romantic evening out discussing all the above at length instead of being carefree and kid free. Oh well. There will be other nights out.

MrsHoratioNelson Sun 20-Oct-13 14:09:08

I thought you might do. And what I forgot to mention is that my state school picked up that I was coasting and pushed me (net result max grades); DH's school failed to pick it up and he got the (bad) shock of his life come results day. So these expensive schools aren't always perfect.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Sat 19-Oct-13 18:12:25

MrsHoratioNelson, I was educated at a state school for elementary school (what you call primary school) and then at a private secondary school. At 16 I had a minor nervous breakdown and dropped out of the private school. Eventually went back, but to the local state school, which got me through to graduation. So yeah, I have mixed feelings about private education.

Strumpetron Sat 19-Oct-13 14:52:09

DO NOT DO IT. Your instincts are spot on.

Does anyone remember the MNer who's IL's had paid towards their house, kept coming and going, telling them how to decorate it and threatened to chuck them out?

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