If I’ve co-owned a vacant lot in with my mother for 35 years, don’t I have to agree to a sale?

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If I’ve co-owned a vacant lot in with my mother for 35 years, don’t I have to agree to a sale?

The lot cost $11,000 but my portion paid into is about $7,000. My mom is now in a retirement home and my oldest brother is now the custodian for her affairs. He wants to sell her house and all properties in her name. I’ve told him I will not sell if the proceeds are less than 64% which I feel is my stake in the property. He said he’s going to sell it and split it between all 5siblings. Can he do that? Don’t I have to agree to the sale as co-owner?

Asked on May 29, 2014 under Estate Planning, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Are you on the title for the lot? If it is titled to you (whether instead of or in addtiion to your mother), then no, your brother, despite being the custodian of your mother's affairs, cannot sell the lot without your permission, without obtaining a court order directing the sale and distribution of the proceeds. (The law allows an owner or owner's representative to petition for sale and distribution in cases where the owners cannot agree on what to do.) Furthermore, in this case, you should automatically get your share of the proceeds if the lot were sold, and your brother could only distribute your mother's share among the other siblings--as an owner, you'd be entitled to the proceeds.

However, if you are not on the title, you are *not* an owner; if your mother is the only person the title, she or her representative can sell the lot despite your investment in it, though you may have a claim for a larger share of the proceeds based on your investment.


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