How Do You Deal With Real Estate That Is Left To More Than One Beneficiary?

Law Blog

If a loved one dies and leaves a piece of real estate to two or more people, dividing the asset can be complex. This is especially the case when one or more of the beneficiaries cannot agree on how to handle the property. This is commonly the case in cases with more than one sibling inheriting a parent's home. If the siblings cannot agree on how to divide it, it can make the process quite difficult. Here is what you need to know in this type of situation.

What Happens to the Property If One of Its Owners Passes Away?

The outcome of property ownership when one owner dies will depend on the rights of survivorship. If the property is owned jointly with rights of survivorship and one of the owners passes away, the ownership will pass to the surviving owners. This property does not need to enter probate because the right of survivorship is automatic. Other types of assets to go through rights of ownership include retirement accounts, bank accounts, and other estates.

If any property owned by more than one person does not have rights of survivorship and one of the owners passes away, the interest of the deceased owner will have to enter probate. From that point, probate will determine the distribution to beneficiaries.

Can One Person Force a Sale?

If one person who is a beneficiary of the real estate wants to force a sale, they can ask the court to do so. This will depend on the state, but when more than one beneficiaries want to sell the real estate, they can request a partition action. This will result in a portion of the property splitting and being sold or otherwise dealt with by each individual beneficiary. However, this only works for a single-family dwelling when the house is sold.

What If Someone Is Living on the Property?

If a group of people inherited a home and one person wants to sell it to get liquid assets from the sale, the one person can seek to sell it, even if the sale is against the wishes of the other beneficiaries. If one or more of the beneficiaries are living at the property and they do not want to sell, one option is for them to purchase the other person's interest in the home. If this still is not an option, the person who wants to sell can force the sale by going to court and obtaining a partition action. This leaves the person living on the property no other choice but to vacate the property. The proceeds of the sale will then be evenly divided among the beneficiaries.

If one or more beneficiaries want to contest a partition action, they can do so. However, there has to be a valid reason that prohibits the sale for the action to not go through. Reach out to a probate attorney near you to learn more.


27 December 2022

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