Inheriting a house with siblings can be both an incredibly difficult and emotional experience. Most often, this means your parents have both passed away, so in addition to figuring out the logistics of how to move forward with the home, you’re also all grieving.
Often, one or more siblings want to sell the home, while others don’t. How do you approach dealing with the sticky situations that can arise from trying to sell an inherited house with siblings? Let’s talk out a few of the major questions owning a house with siblings will present:
1. Who Gets to Live There?
Say you inherit a home with your brother and sister. You technically own one-third of the house, but how do you take advantage of that if you can’t all live in it at once?
If one of the siblings in question was already living in the home—perhaps taking care of their elderly parent—then naturally, they may feel they have a stronger claim to the ownership and occupation of the house. If that sibling is able to live in the home, do they take on all the responsibility for it? Otherwise, what value does it present to the remaining two siblings who aren’t living there?
2. Can a Resistant Sibling Be Forced to Sell?
If everyone is in agreement but you have one sibling holding out, whether for emotional or financial reasons, you may be wondering if you can override them. Unfortunately, there are very few avenues to do that.
This is especially true if the will is not clear on the owner’s wishes for the property. If the will directs that the house be sold and the profits be split, that’s one thing. But if mom or dad was leaving it up to the kids to make the decision that worked best for them, you’re stuck with having to convince everyone to get on the same page.
3. Will We Have to Get the Courts Involved?
If there is division among the siblings about selling versus not selling, and an accord can’t be reached, there is legal recourse. But beware that it comes with a steep price.
You can file an inheritance partition, where the courts force the sale of the home and divide the profits into chunks that are proportionate to each heir’s designated interest in the estate. This often means that the home sells for significantly less than it would have on the market, making everyone’s portions smaller, not to mention the havoc it will wreak on personal relationships. Frankly, this should be your last-ditch option in a worst-case scenario.
4. How Can We Push for the Sale?
Finding an amicable way forward with your sibling(s) while also unloading the property won’t be easy, but it is doable. Consider discussing adjustments to the percentages each sibling receives.
If one sibling is hesitant to sell because they need to be able to live in the home, consider allocating a larger portion of the final sale price to them in order to help with relocation. You’ll find that it’s usually worth a reduction in your personal share to keep the peace in your family and get the property off your plate.
Meridian Trust has worked with a number of clients to sell an inherited house with siblings. We work exclusively with individuals and can close in 30 days. If you’re stressed out about inheriting a house with siblings and want more information on selling it for cash, please call us today.