What to do if beneficiaries can’t agree on the disposition of estate assets?

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What to do if beneficiaries can’t agree on the disposition of estate assets?

My mom owned a farm when she died. My sister and me are co-executors. There are 4 heirs and 2 want to sell it way below fair market value. The other executor is one of the ones who wants to sell. What do I do next?

Asked on August 13, 2013 under Estate Planning, Iowa

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The executor (and other beneficiary) who wants to sell can commence what is known as a "partition action". This is an action available to co-owners when they cannot agree as to whether or not to sell the property or other ownership matters.  A partition allows for the division of property among co-owners if the property can be physically divided.  Where division would be impracticable (as in the instance of a single family residence) a court would order a "sale in lieu of partition" and an equitable division of the proceeds among the owners. However, the sale would be for fair market value.

Note: Before ordering such a sale, the court would permit a co-owner to purchase the interest of the remaining co-owners at an agreed upon price.

However this can be a costly and time-consuming process, so perhaps you can all try to come to an agreement prior to such a suit being filed.


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