Questions to Ask an Attorney on Your Rights If You Inherited a House With Siblings

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

Questions to Ask an Attorney on Your Rights If You Inherited a House With Siblings

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

If you've inherited a house with your siblings, you have certain rights to that house. Interests between siblings can potentially conflict, however, depending on each of their individual situations. For instance, one sibling may need the cash from a sale, while another sibling may have an emotional attachment to the house and, therefore, wants to keep the property in the family. If these situations arise, it's helpful to know exactly what your rights are to the house. An attorney can help answer any questions you have on this subject.

Man on phone reading paperwork

Who can live in the home?

If the house was left to all the siblings, say there are three in the family, each one has one-third interest in the property and all have the right to use and enjoy the house in its entirety. Unless the inheritance came with specific instructions regarding who can reside in the house, all three siblings would have to share the property if each wanted to live there. This is a bit unpractical, so if one sibling really wanted to live in the home, she could always buy out the others' interest if they are willing to sell. Another option is that two siblings could retain the investment in the home while the other one resides there. If that's the case, a formal document outlining the terms of the agreement should be drawn up.

Can one sibling be forced to sell?

If your siblings want to sell the property but you want to keep it, they may force you to sell the property anyway. When two or more owners cannot agree on the disposition of a piece of property, any of the owners can file a partition action in the appropriate court. Also known as a "forced sale,"a partition action essentially forces all parties to sell the property and split the proceeds according to the court's requirements. The sale can occur at a public auction or through a private real estate listing. If you have the money, you can buy back the house at its listing price.

Does a court need to be involved?

A court would not likely get involved unless there was some dispute between the siblings and one of them filed a legal action involving the matter. Courts do not generally restrict beneficiaries from negotiating mutually-agreeable inheritance terms among themselves. However, if the siblings cannot agree with each other, turning to the courts may be the only option.

Additionally, if the deed to the house does not automatically pass to the siblings upon the previous deed owner's death, ownership transfer of the house likely needs to go through the probate process. Probate is a court process of settling a deceased person's estate.

If you would like more information on inheritance rights or the probate process, contact an online service provider today who can help answer any questions you may have.

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