‘I kept receipts.’ I lived in the home my mother left to me and my brother — should I deduct the bills from his share of the sale?

Dear Moneyist,

My mother died about 15 years ago and the only asset she had was her home. I was living there at the time, and had taken out a loan on the home with her knowledge. I married and moved out, and my son and his family eventually moved in and made payments on the home. We sold the property last month and it went through probate.

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I have one brother and need to honor my mother’s will by giving him half. I kept receipts for 15 years of expenses, including property taxes, a new roof and a hot-water heater. Is it right that I deduct these from what he is owed? Is there a way I can get a tax deduction? We live in Michigan.

Ms. P

Dear Ms. P,

Your mother’s home has been of great use to you over the years. You used it to get a loan and you had somewhere to live all of this time, as did some members of your family. You could hardly expect your brother to pay the maintenance and other bills if he was receiving no income from the property in the form of rent. It seems that he was doing you a favor, rather than the other way around. Did you tell your brother that you sold the property, or did you make that decision unilaterally? Your brother may not have exercised his rights, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any.

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