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to think she has no right?!

(90 Posts)
CheerfulYank Tue 04-Nov-14 05:52:51

Long story but I'm so upset. sad

I'm American. My great great grandparents came over from Finland long ago (I believe around 1910 but I may be wrong). They settled around a lake far up north (almost Canada) and built a house which has now fallen into disrepair.

They had several descendents. We're all pretty well spread out now but a few remained in the little town. My grandmother moved a thousand miles away but always brought her DC (including my father) back to the little town for holidays. My father loved it and when he grew up moved back there with my mother and brother and me. I was eight at the time so it's pretty much where I grew up. We didn't live on the land but about ten miles away. A descendent (my grandmother's cousin) and his wife lived there. We visited them often and so many of my childhood memories involve the lake and swimming and boating.

My grandparents put up a cabin on the lake when I was ten and would spend a few months every summer there. After my grandfather died, my grandmother began spending more time there.

She died last Christmas Eve. She left some money in trust to pay for the cabin's taxes but it will not last long. I've talked to DH and when the fund runs out we (and a few of my uncles and my parents) will split the cost so we can all use it as we all have happy memories and it's what my grandmother would have wanted. I love it there and want my DC to have memories there as well.

The descendent who lived there when I was a child and his wife are long since dead, but his son built a house and has been living there for several years now. He has a grown son who has developmental disabilities who lives with him and it has always been known that there is money set aside so that he will be able to stay in the house when his parents are gone.

As far as I knew, the land was set up so that it could not be sold, and that any proven direct descendent of my great grandparents could settle there as long as they paid their portion of the taxes. Obviously this was an informal agreement as not EVERYONE could live there, but as far as I knew no one wanted to. It's been this way for years.

My mother just told me today that two "cousins" of my dad's (their fathers would have been my grandmother's first cousins, I don't know what that makes them to me) have decided that they are going to sell the land.

I just don't...I'm in shock. They've never, ever had anything to do with it. My parents and grandparents and this other descendent were the ones who paid taxes all these years and looked after the place. It means something to us. Our ancestors never intended it to be sold, ever. I'm in tears at the thought.

The woman leading the charge is a millionaire already. What does she want with it? It means nothing to her and there are people living on it.

Because of the town (it's a tourist spot) the land may be worth a million or maybe even two million dollars. But surely there are at least a hundred of us to split it, maybe more. To me, it's not worth it. I need money more than she ever has or will but I would never sell. I'm in tears at the thought.

Maybe I'm being precious. Maybe I'll get flamed. Maybe she does have the right, at least legally. But oh, it hurts. Just the thought.


PetulaGordino Tue 04-Nov-14 06:01:33

How horribly upsetting. Yanbu for being unhappy with the idea. I guess it will come down to the legalities (which obviously I don't know anything about), but it seems desperately unfair on the face of it, though perhaps this is the problem with ambiguous or informal agreements. Have they given a reason why they want to sell? Is it purely about money?

CheerfulYank Tue 04-Nov-14 06:03:43

It's all money.

It means nothing to them. Her own brother said "you know X, never met a dollar she didn't want to take."

One of the worst parts is I just feel like they were lurking, waiting for my grandmother to die. Because she would have chewed them up and spit them up if they'd dared while she was still around. angry

Sprink Tue 04-Nov-14 06:05:35

I know this kind pf thing can be very upsetting.

Two things--

1. I don't really understand who owns the land.

2. They would be second cousins once removed.

CheerfulYank Tue 04-Nov-14 06:07:24

I just realized I said "I'm in tears at the thought" twice. blush

I really am, though. I'm pregnant and hormonal as can be and the idea of our land being sold to some developer is breaking my heart.

PetulaGordino Tue 04-Nov-14 06:09:35

It is totally understandable and not unreasonable to be deeply upset by this. Those of you who do not want to sell need to pull together everything you can to establish who owns what and how, and who can make decisions about selling.

Ohmygrood Tue 04-Nov-14 06:10:11

Who owns the land?

TanteRose Tue 04-Nov-14 06:10:15

Oh dear, Cheerful, how upsetting sad

you ask if she has the right - well, does she??

is there a family lawyer who can advise on the situation? Who owns the land?

surely it can't be as easy as all that to override everyone else's wishes?

hope you can resolve this thanks

CheerfulYank Tue 04-Nov-14 06:11:13

Sprink I don't either! I asked when I was younger, more than once, but it was so vague.

As far as I know the last owners outright were my great great grandparents.

Other people who have lived there have purchased a cabin or similar and moved it there, then paid a share of the taxes. No one really "owns" it.

So I suppose legally she does have the right? I have no idea. But surely she'd have to track down all the direct descendent and pay them off and that would take years. There have been relatives (my grandma's brother for instance) who took off for Florida or God knows where and weren't really heard from much...but they have children and grandchildren at this point too, who must have some rights as well? What a mess.

ExitPursuedByABear Tue 04-Nov-14 06:12:40

But who owns the land? Surely you would all need to agree?

Call a family meeting.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Tue 04-Nov-14 06:12:54

Poor SadYank. Might it be an option for 98 of you to buy out greedy cousin? Or at the very least to get legal advice?

BikeRunSki Tue 04-Nov-14 06:14:46

You need to see a solicitor (attorney?). This all sounds far too complicated to sort out simply and easily. If the land does not belong exclusively to your dad's cousins, then I can't see how they can force a sale.

Good luck fighting this. It sounds beautiful. Is it Maine?

PetulaGordino Tue 04-Nov-14 06:15:27

I have no idea if there is any difference in how inheritance works in the US but will it not depend on the terms of your great great grandparents' will(s)? So they may have left it to just one child who permitted others to use it iyswim. You need to establish exactly who owns what here

Ohmygrood Tue 04-Nov-14 06:18:42

It must be upsetting to think that somebody is looking at the land so greedily, but it just sounds so unlikely that she'd be able to get agreement for this based on your description of the shared ownership.

WeAreEternal Tue 04-Nov-14 06:19:10

I would think they probably have a claim to a small portion of the land.
If they push for this they will probably have to go back and through the family tree and work out exactly how much of the land they would have inherited, had it been split equily between the siblings of each generation.

Who is the land registed to?
Have they or any of their imidiate family lived on the land?

CheerfulYank Tue 04-Nov-14 06:20:50

I guess the descendent who lives there has contacted his lawyer already.

We could do a family meeting with my family (uncles, aunt, cousins, etc) but tracking down everyone would take years.

My great great grandparents had, I believe, three children. One died young. One is my great grandmother who had three children. The other I believe had eight or nine. And all of them had children and grandchildren and probably great-grands. In my immediate circle (I mean of my first cousins) I'm the only one with DC so far, but I have two and one on the way so I know there are at least a few great great great grandchildren of the original owners.

I think my great aunt (my grandmother's sister) is maybe the oldest living descendent left. She lives thousands of miles away and is a bit eccentric and I don't really know her at all. I have no idea what she'd think of all this.

antimatter Tue 04-Nov-14 06:23:26

What happened to your GM's estate when she died?

In many European countries there's land registry where each piece of land is registered and names ow owners are listed. If no such document exists it has to be created.
Can someone obtain it?
Is there any paperwork re: purchase of this land?

Just because she wants to sell the land doesn't mean she can.
She may be trying to bully people to do it but if anyone who is legally inheriting that land opposes I think she would have to go through the courts.

First step is to establish who owns the land and was there will by your GM. Obtain paperwork and check what law says re:inheritance.

musicalendorphins2 Tue 04-Nov-14 06:24:13

I am so sorry, very upsetting to have something like that happen. But hopefully they will not be able to do this. It doesn't sound like they have a legal foot to stand on. Everyone could chip in to pay for a lawyer to represent the relatives who want to keep the land in the family. Or, as suggested, all chip in and buy the greedy cousin's share out. (and never allow them(greedy cousins) to enjoy the land again)

CheerfulYank Tue 04-Nov-14 06:25:31

Petula I don't believe there was/is a will. Which is so silly really, to think that we could have thought it would just go on like this but...they've never lived there, never expressed an interest. They have their own cabins other places.

It is beautiful Bike. I love it so much. I couldn't make it to my grandmother's funeral (it was far away and DD was just too little) and I didn't really feel any "closure" til I visited the cabin again. Her knitting was there, and her recipe books, and...oh God, she would hate this. sad

Anyway, no, it's not Maine. It's Minnesota. smile I've heard the two are very similar in the northern parts, with the pine forests and lakes.

PetulaGordino Tue 04-Nov-14 06:28:03

Ah ok. It sounds very complex. It does sound like you will need specialist legal advice, but I really hope that their greed doesn't end up with you having to foot expensive legal bills, that would just add to the upset.

WeAreEternal Tue 04-Nov-14 06:28:45

How many people actually use the land?

I think they could possibly claim that those who moved away never to be seen again, or those who have never heard of or set foot on the land have no claim to it, so only those who use or live on the land would have a strong case for fighting against a sale of the land.

Most importantly though, people can only sell land that they can prove that they own. They obviously think that they can do this so you should be looking into how they think they can prove this.

Ohmygrood Tue 04-Nov-14 06:30:00

Could she be hoping that the family pay her off for her claim on the land?

Iggi999 Tue 04-Nov-14 06:32:36

If no will, there will be a legal definition of who owns what (I believe lawyers love this part).
Your rich relatives are probably counting on no one else getting legal advice, so you should look into that quickly as this means so much to you. Even a couple of sessions to determine where inheritance laws stands in that state. I wouldn't try to have giant family meetings about it, just get support from a few and get legal advice.

KeatsiePie Tue 04-Nov-14 06:34:01

Oh Cheerful I said "oh, no" as soon as I read your first lines and saw it was you sad

I don't feel like I can post details and my family is not fighting about it (currently, long may it last) but we have a long-held family attachment that is a little bit like this. It is so, so hugely meaningful and sentimental, I really understand that.

I don't know a thing about the inheritance process. But there is no way that no one really owns that land. And even as a non-lawyer, I feel very comfortable saying that one relative of many just does not have the right to just up and sell it.

I would look up the property records and print them out and take them to a lawyer, even though your relative who lives there has already gone to one too. I am sure you can have a lawyer call the title into question, which will mean that she cannot sell the land -- I mean, she will not be able to, b/c the title will be noted as unclear or in dispute, and that will hold her up while your sort the rest out.

I really, really empathize but I really believe that she is not going to be able to do this. Get that title called into question right away and then you will have the time to sit down and discuss.

Ohmygrood Tue 04-Nov-14 06:35:18

Are there any lawyers living locally who would give you a free initial consultation?
(I'd imagine that local people would be as angry as you are about this!)

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