About the House: Inheritance and Unexpected Consequences
Unexpected consequences can be frustrating, or funny, or expensive.
Take a few minutes and watch YouTube videos of people caught in an action they hadn’t foreseen and you will have a good laugh. There are all sorts of inebriated folks at wedding receptions who try to dance on a table and end up on the floor; adolescent boys jumping bikes over rickety ramps; and all sorts of clever weekend warriors with chainsaws and ladders just asking to get hurt.
One place most people don’t know what to expect is where inheritances are concerned. I’m not saying folks don’t have expectations, I’m sure many do. But many times I’ve seen how reality catches people off-guard. I’ve heard it said several times that if they knew what was going to ensue, they would have said no from the start.
Unexpected problems can turn up even when you know you are in line to inherit property, especially if there is a house involved. I’ve done inspections of houses that were, essentially, dozer-bait. In one house, conditions were such that repair cost would nearly exceed the value. But person A didn’t want person B to get unfair advantage in the settlement. One house probably would sell for what attorneys were getting to settle the matter.
Another time unexpected things arise is when someone wants what another has and offers a trade of inherited property. “How about you take that parcel next to your place and I’ll take the hunting cabin up north?” While making one’s year-round homestead larger sound enticing, if there is an old house involved, the cost of tearing it down might exceed the value of the land being added.
This can be greatly exaggerated in old houses with plaster walls and ceilings that contain asbestos. Asbestos can show up in attics and walls as insulation. Vermiculite insulation, which often was poured into hollow balloon-framed walls and on the attic floor, is especially expensive to abate. Even fiberglass batts can contain asbestos. Many types of flooring from sheet goods to 9-by-9-inch and 12-by-12-inch floor tile may have asbestos. This does not include water pipe and heat duct insulations.
Before agreeing to take on an inherited house, get an attorney and perform your due diligence About the House.
Source: American Society of Home Inspectors; written by Rob Kinsey and originally published in the Sturgis Journal
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