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My sibling and I have come to a disagreement about what to do with our parents
home. They are my 1/2 sibling we both share the same mother. When our mother
passed away we were given 1/4 of the house ownership per our mothers will.
When my father passed away he did not have a will and sibling took it up
themselves to be the executor, essentially putting ownership of the house at
50/50. They also showed up and cleaned out the house without me being there
then asked me to come physically get the house ready to sell after they took
everything they wanted.
I am pretty upset about the whole matter, we have been auguring about it for
years and over the time we have been renting out the house because we couldnt
agree. Now they are insisting we sell the house or I buy them out.
Can someone please clarify on what the legal standing I would have if I tried
to claim that I would own 75. It would be the difference between me being able
to actually buy them out or being forced to sell it.
Asked on May 6, 2018 under Estate Planning, New Mexico
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 5 years ago | Contributor
If your father owned 1/2 the house (while you and your sibling each owned 1/4), then when he passed away without a will, his children would split or share his interest in the house: if there were two of you, you would each get 1/2 of his 1/2, or 1/4; therefore, you are 50-50 owners. Since you and your sibling cannot agree as to what to do with the house, unless you want to buy your sibling out, can negotiate a price you and your sibling both agree to, and can afford the buy out, your best recourse is to sell the house and split the proceeds. Note that if you do not agree voluntarily to do this, your sibling can bring a legal action (traditionally called an action "for partition") to force the sale of the home; that being the case, it is better to work this out voluntarily.
Note that you were an equal inheritor of the possessions in the house and other personal property owned by your late father when he passed away. Your sibling could sell these items if he/she then split the proceeds with you, assuming he/she was appointed the personal representative (an estate's personal representative has the right to manage the assets in the estate, including by selling them and distributing the proceeds to the heirs), but had no right to keep them (or the money from them) him/herself. You should be compensated for the value of anything he/she took unilaterally; you could potentially sue your sibling for this, but it would be better to voluntarily work it out in the context of selling the house (e.g. as an adjustment to what you pay, if you buy the sibling out, or each receive, if the house is sold and the proceeeds or equity distributed to the two of you). Any agreements you and your sibling come to should be put in writing.
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