Can one heir move forward with the sale of a home in an estateif the other heir has been uncooperative?

UPDATED: Feb 11, 2012

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Can one heir move forward with the sale of a home in an estateif the other heir has been uncooperative?

A trust was put in the name of 3 remaining children. All decisions required a majority rule such as the sale of the home included in the estate. One brother suddenly passed away leaving the 2 brothers as the sole heirs with the exception of the deceased brothers wife which I understand the wife is legally due 1/2 of his portion. The question is with the 2 remaining heirs there has been no communication. Letters have gone unanswered so the property has sat for 7 years. Since there will be no majority rule regarding the sale of the house, what legal steps can be taken to move forward with the sale without the cooperation of 1 of the heirs. Is the widow of 1 of the brothers considered a deciding factor in the decision? Can 1heir legally move forward with the sale without the others consent. What steps should be taken first?

Asked on February 11, 2012 under Estate Planning, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your situation.  As you are aware, the terms of the trust - along with the law in your state - will govern how you act here. But you should never act with out the benfit of court approval just to cover yourself.  So I would seek help from an attorney to either look to dissolve the trust so that the majority rule no longer exists - and move for partition of the asset (splitting it in half but in cases of real property that usually means to sell and split the proceeds) or requesting that the court allow you to act independently givn the lack of contact with the other trustee. Be casefule what you do with the portions of the other beneficiaries, but really the court will tell you what to do.  Good luck.   

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