If one beneficiary does not want to sell an inherited home, what can the other beneficiaries do?

UPDATED: Aug 18, 2011

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If one beneficiary does not want to sell an inherited home, what can the other beneficiaries do?

My in-laws passed away leaving their paid for home to the 5 children (and spouses; all are married). There is 1 sister-in-law who is not willing to sign to sell the house. What recourse do we have to get her off or have her sign? They have now canceled the insurance on the home also.

Asked on August 18, 2011 Missouri


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Once the property is in the names of the beneficiaries, the co-owners who want to sell have the right to pursue the legal remedy of "partition". This is an action available to co-owners of property 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.  Before doing so however, it would permit a co-owner to purchase the interest of the remaining co-owners at fair market value.

However this can be a costly and time-consuming process. Perhaps once your sister-in-law is informed of the realities of the situation she will come around regarding the sale.

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