What happens when a house is left to 2 siblings and both agree to sell upon the death of parents but now one has backed out and wants too keep it?

The sibling that wants it doesn’t want to buy out the other sibling out. What are their rights?

Asked on September 24, 2012 under Estate Planning, Georgia

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Florida, and I would expect all other states, allows a joint owner to force a sale of property.  This is called "partition" and is governed by statute in Florida.  As a matter of ancient property law (that came to this land with the Pilgrims), the law looks with disfavor on restricting owners of real property from doing what they want with their land (known as "restraints on alienation"). 

I suggest you consult a lawyer in your jurisdiction about this. If your parents' estate is still in probate, consult a probate lawyer.  If the estate is closed and you own the property with your sibling, consult a real estate lawyer.  Many lawyers don't like to bring actions for partition because they usually involve emotional family issues and may provide that the lawyers will be paid out of any proceeds of sale (Florida does this).  However, this is the most direct way to resolve your difficulty.  Your sibling's lawyer should do the right thing and tell him or her the truth (that the property is going to be sold and there are very few defenses to partition). When faced with this knowledge, he or she should buy you out or sell the property.  Anything else is a waste of money.


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