Rancho Palos Verdes, CA asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Vermont

Q: Can an estate executor force an heir to sell their share of real estate?

1 Lawyer Answer
Nina Whitehurst
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Crossville, TN

A: The answer to your question is yes and no. Yes, either of your sisters could GO TO COURT and force A SALE of the property. So, no, neither of them can force you to sell without obtaining a court order. But, yes, they could obtain a court order and force a sale of the property. So, knowing that, if one of your sisters is offering to pay you an amount that is reasonably close to one-third of the value of the property, you probably should accept it because your one-third share will be worth less if they have to go to court to force a sale because legal fees and court costs will come off the top.

It is sometimes possible for a court, when faced with a partition action (which is what the forced sale case is called), to divide up the property among the heirs in kind, rather than selling. This means you would each receive your own parcel. However, that depends on whether it can be done and still comply with local subdivision laws and also will result in shares of equal value (or size, if that's what the will says, but most likely it does not). More often than not, such a division is simply not possible and so the property ends up being sold to the highest bidder. Either of your sisters would then be free to bid at the sale.

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