Can I keep siblings from selling a house we own together?

It’s not unusual for parents to leave multiple children equal rights to property with little regard to how difficult it may be the children to divide the property after the parent’s death. Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “If my parents left a home to seven children and six children want to sell the home and the seventh child does not, what are the options for the seventh child? Can they keep the others from selling the home?”

Although from a purely financial and unemotional position if a home is owned by seven kids it would be best to sell the property and simply divide the proceeds from the sale evenly between all parties involved.

When a family home is involved, however, it’s natural that one or more children may have a special attachment to the home. If this is the case, it makes sense to review all the possible options and decide if there may be a solution which is beneficial and satisfying to all parties.

Considerations before any decisions are made about the home

There is no reason to fight over the home until the estate has gone through probate. If your parents have died, and they have substantial debts, the executor of the will may not have an option but to sell the home to repay certain debts prior to the distribution of any assets, including the family home. There may be ways to save the home, but options will need to be discussed with an estate lawyer.

Can I Be Forced to Sell my inheritance?

Assuming there are not substantial debts and the family home survives probate, you may be forced to sell the home if your siblings are adamant about selling, especially if you do not have the money to buy the property outright from them.

If you agree to the sell the property it can be done through a partition action. If you do not agree to the sale it can also be done through a forced partition action. Regardless of whether or not all parties agree, the court has the legal right to order the property sold through a real estate listing or through an auction and divide the proceeds to all eligible parties.

Bottom Line: Unless there is a written waiver or some other type of provision included in your parent’s will, the right to partition is generally considered an absolute right.

What are my options to keep the property?

So that’s the bad news. But that does not mean there are not other options, especially if the siblings are open to suggestions. For example, you may be able to do any of the following to keep the property:

  • Negotiate some type of settlement with your siblings.
  • Agree to rent the property and make payments to your siblings.
  • Purchase the other sibling’s interest in the property.
  • Work with a mediator to determine if there is another solution.
  • Purchase the home for the sell price after it has been listed or at the time of auction.

Bottom line:

Generally speaking, siblings will have the absolute right to seek a partition action for inherited property and force a sale. The court, if practical, may allow the property to simply be divided, but this may only work if there is acreage rather than a family home. If the property cannot be practically divided, the court will determine what would be the most equitable way to divide the property or the value of the property.

 

 

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