How do we divide my father's property fairly?

My 78-year-old father is a successful real estate investor. It has always been important to him that he treat my sister and me equally concerning financial matters. In that spirit, his living trust and will divide his estate 50/50 between my sister and me. As part of his estate planning, he has been gradually gifting his assets to us. Until 2008, those gifts had been equal. But in 2008 and 2009, my father paid more than $100,000 to build for my sister as a gift a new detached garage/office for her house. He told me at the time that he would pay for any improvements I wanted for my home, but I had no improvements I wanted to make so I did not take him up on his offer and we let the matter drop.

Last month, my father sold one of his investments. He has told my sister and me that he wants to give us the sale proceeds and let us decide how to split it. My sister and I disagree on a fair division of the proceeds that honors my father’s desire to treat us equally. My sister says we should divide the proceeds from the sale 50/50 without considering the garage. She says I lost my chance to balance out the garage while my father is alive because I did not take his offer last year to pay for improvements to my house. She says we can make us even for her garage after my father passes away by giving me cash equal to the cost of her garage when we divide my father’s estate after his death.

I say the fair division is for me to receive now from the sale proceeds the cost of my sister’s garage, instead of 5 or 10 years in the future after my dad’s passing. After my sister and I balance out the garage, we can equally divide what is left from the sale proceeds (which is still a fair amount of money) as well as, when that time comes, all the rest of his property. My sister says my proposal is unfair because it gives me more than half the cash from the recent sale. I, on the other hand, believe her proposal is unfair because she gets to enjoy the use of her garage/office now, but requires me to wait 5 or more years before I get to enjoy use of the money which evens out her garage.

Which proposal is fairer? Remember, the dispute is not about whether we balance out the garage, because we both agree that we must divide my father’s property equally between us; the dispute is when we balance out the garage – now, or some unknown number of years from now? Also, asking my father to decide is not an option – he wants us to decide for him, and will accept whatever decision we make.
By Jane123 8 years ago :: Family (Extended)
  • Robert Betancourt
    MA, Professional Counseling,Therapist
    Emotional Healing-25+ years experience in helping people find solutions that work. "one of the best therapists here" $2.49/minute
       4.93/5
  • Rafael Richman
    Ph.D.
    Are you feeling stuck, trapped in the same patterns that repeat over & over? Are you feeling angry, alone, unappreciated & unheard? I can help you. $2.85/minute
       4.84/5
  • View More Experts
    6