If my mother-in-law left her house to her 4 children and 1 of them is living in the house and does not want to move, what are the other siblings’ rights?

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If my mother-in-law left her house to her 4 children and 1 of them is living in the house and does not want to move, what are the other siblings’ rights?

She passed away a month ago and left a quitclaim deed assigning her home to her 4 children, 1 of whom is my spouse. The youngest of the 4 lives in the house and has lived there rent free for 10 years. The other 3 would like to sell the house. What are their rights? What is the best way to handle?

Asked on July 20, 2016 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

As long as the property is now in all of your names, then as a joint owner you can take action. When co-owners of property cannot agree on ownership matters, their is remedy known as "partition". It entails the going to court before a judge who will either order a division of the property, if practical. If not, then they will order that the property be sold and the proceeds distributed equitably (as in the case of a single family home). However, the court will first allow any owner who wishes to keep the property the "right of first refusal", meaning that they can offer to buy out the other party for fair market value before it is offered to the public. That having been said, a partition action is time consuing and expensive. Accordingly, you may want to let the other owner know of all of this. Possibly after being innformed of just what such an action entails, they will be more amenable to try and work things out.


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