How can you sell a parent’s home without 1 of the heirs?

It’s 5 of us and our names are on the probate I had done. However 1 of the heirs, my niece, will not answer phone calls, texts or emails. The buyer called her when I told him no one could speak with her and she hung up the phone on him. Is there a way to send papers for her to sign over her rights to the property. I was the only one paying taxes for the past 13 years. So if the majority is ready to sign, is there a way to move forward?

Asked on April 6, 2018 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Yes, there is: when one of two or more owners of real estate refuses to sell, the other owner(s) can bring a legal action (lawsuit), traditionally called an action "for partition" (though your state may have a different name for it) in which a court order is sought compelling the sale of the property. The law does not trap people who want to sell or separate themselves from real estate into having to keep owning it just because there is another person who does not want to sell. The court order will require that the property be sold and the proceeds (after paying court costs, costs of sale, and paying off any mortgages, HELOCs, liens, etc.) be distributed among the owners. This can be a complex action to bring, certainly compared to, say, a small claims case; the owners who want to sell are strongly advised to retain a real estate attorney to help them.


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