Getting an inheritance is always a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand, someone you probably cared about has transitioned. On the other, you may have significant funds coming your way.
But then things get complicated. The personal representative reads the will and… Wow! Mom left the house to you and your two siblings to split evenly. What now?
You can’t just divide it up. One of you wants to keep it in the family. You have so many memories there. You and your sister say sell it. Split the proceeds and move on. But this doesn’t come down to a simple 2-1 vote. You’re worried about how all of this might impact the long-term relationship you all share. Fortunately, you have some options, each with its own pros and cons.
1. Convince Your Obstinate Sibling to Sell
If you approach your “keep it in the family” sibling in the right way, you may be able to encourage them to agree to a sale. What this means will be different depending on your relationship and the sibling’s temperament. Consider whether you or your sell-it sister de-escalates and communicates in a way that keeps defensiveness down and allows for a practical conversation.
2. Encourage a Buyout
If the person who wants to keep it has money from the inheritance or otherwise, you could suggest they buy you and your sister out. Although, keep in mind, paying out two-thirds may not be fair, especially if the keep-it sibling has been living there and took care of your Mom in her final years. You also have to consider how much is left of the mortgage and if that sibling paid for a new roof, etc.
If the keep-it sibling doesn’t have the funds, they could quickly raise them if they qualify for a mortgage. You could transfer the title to their name and then go through go through Mt Pleasant refinancing taking enough equity out to pay the two of you your shares.
But be sure to get the plan in writing before making any transfers.
3. Make It a Rental
Turn the property into a rental with the agreement of each sibling. You could either use a third-party short-term rental website or find a long-term tenant.
But before you divide those monthly proceeds up, realize that even one rental property means you’re running a property management business. Someone needs to manage that business, keep reserves for maintenance and repairs, pay taxes, etc. A fund must be set aside for these purposes.
You can also hire a property manager if none of you want to take on that task.
4. Have Your Sibling Pay Rent
If none of you really need the money now, you may want to make the keep-it sibling the tenant. Now, they pay you and your sister rent, but you all still own the home.
However, you’ll need to evaluate your sibling’s trustworthiness and track record as a tenant. Do they have a regular income that will support the rent? Would they take advantage of your love for them?
In any case, always make it official and legal. Make sure they sign a lease, pay market rent minus their third, and understand their obligations to avoid legal issues down the line.
5. Partition It
A judge can legally partition some properties, such as:
- Large plot of land
- Multiple vacation homes
- Rental properties
- Free-standing add-on suites
Keep in mind only someone who is on the title can request a partition. If you share a property with your siblings, you should all be on the title. If your keep-it sibling is the personal representative/executor of the estate and delays adding you to the title, then you would need to file to have them removed before you could request a partition.
6. Force a Sale
This is generally the last option because it may result in relationship strain. If even one sibling wants to sell, they can force a sale, so it won’t matter if the vote is 2-1. You’re not ganging up on your obstinate sibling.
But again, if the keep-it sibling is living there rent-free because they haven’t transferred the title into your names, you’ll need to file to have them removed as executor first.
7. Have the Courts Decide
If your family is unable to decide what to do, the courts will generally force the sale and divide up the proceeds. However, keep in mind, this may result in additional legal and court fees that bite into the final value of inheriting a home.
Inheriting a Home with Siblings
Inheriting a home with siblings is rarely ideal, but you can certainly make the best of it if you know your options. Discuss them competently with your siblings to come to an agreement that keeps your relationships intact.