I THINK I have solved The Puzzle of the Capitulating Sister-in-Law. You remember that she was all "Hey, my plan for splitting the estate is that I will take the house, the car, the money (to fix the house), and the stocks (for my retirement), and YOUR share will be that you get to pay half for all future house repairs, decade after decade, and if you're lucky I'll die before you and you'll get back some of the money you sank into the money pit!" And we were all, "Uh, no, we're not taking out a mortgage to pay for what would be your house," and she was all "SIGH FINE I will also pay the property taxes GEEZ, NOW are you happy?!" And then we were like, okay, one more email before we consult a lawyer, and, "Hey, how about we split everything 50-50 but the house is in your half and we don't pay any repairs?" and she said "Okay, sure!" And we were all "....???"
The theories for this sudden capitulation included:
1. She was operating on the "Can't hurt to ask for what I want!" principle, and backed down when Paul declined.
2. She complained to a friend about the situation and the friend said, "Are you NUTS???"
3. She had a sudden flash of awareness and insight.
4. She had a stroke.
5. The spirit of my late mother-in-law left her body.
6. She went back on her meds.
7. She found gold coins in the back yard or made some other discovery about the $25,000 house being actually worth much, much more---or had an offer on the house for much, much more.
8. She has a wily plan.
9. She has failed to understand our counteroffer and thinks we agreed to her plan.
10. It's a trap.
11. She reads my blog.
But now we have more information, and I THINK I know what happened. This whole issue started, if you recall, or rather if I told you so you CAN recall, because the lawyer handling the estate wrote to Paul and Paul's sister, saying "Time to let me know what you're doing about the house." And Paul kept waiting several days between emails to his sister. And when, after his sister unexpectedly capitulated, Paul contacted the lawyer to say, "Okay, here's how we're dividing things up," the lawyer sent back a letter saying that we should be aware that in this situation where there is no will, the court will insist that the estate is divided 50-50 TO THE PENNY, and that the court will need to grant separate permissions for each item that will be kept rather than sold, because cash is so much easier to divide.
So first of all, here is my theory: that AFTER Paul's sister emailed us with her plan, but BEFORE Paul emailed back to say "FORGET IT SISTER," Paul's sister emailed the lawyer to tell him the plan she assumed we were accepting. And the lawyer told her about the 50-50 thing. And so then when Paul said forget it, she had already been forced to abandon her plan.
And second of all, this is AWESOME. The court is MAKING SURE.
And third of all, couldn't the lawyer have mentioned this EARLIER, BEFORE I ground my molars into flour?
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