What can we do if our home is very special and we would like our Will to stipulate that ownership may only be in the name of a blood relative for a period of 40 years?

If an owner must liquidate it for legal reasons such as divorce or death, it must be sold to a blood relative for no more than the tax-accessed price. Would such a stipulation be legally binding?

Asked on April 8, 2015 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Legally, you could put that condition into your will, but practically, it's probably unenforceable:

1) There is no government agency in charge of enforcing terms and conditions like those, so if in the future, the person who inherits the house sells it to a non-blood relative, who will bring a lawsuit to enforce it?

2) Even if someone else--some other blood relative--discovered after the fact that the home was sold to a non-relative and sues, the court will NOT take the home from a good faith buyer (someone who paid good money for the home without knowledge of the issue); at most, the court will impose some monetary judgment against the relative who sold it.

3) What if no blood relative wants to buy the home?

There may be other ways to get to where you want: putting the home in a trust, with a sum of money to maintain it, and the trustee having the duty of leasing it at an advantageous price to blood relatives only; or giving relative one a "life estate" to live there, but the home then goes to relative 2 or some defined descendent. Those other techniques can get very complicated, so if you want to explore this, consult with a trusts and estates attorney in detail.


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