Inheriting a Home with Siblings

image of a smell house figurine being passed from one set of hands to another - inheriting a home with your siblings concept

Losing a parent is always emotionally difficult. It can be even more stressful when you are faced with the issue of dividing their estate between you and your siblings. Inheriting a home with siblings can sometimes be overwhelming and present a wide variety of challenges. Importantly, how a parent’s real property will be divided among siblings can depend upon whether they left a last will and testament — or if they died intestate.

When a parent passes away with a will in place, it should specify their wishes regarding how they would like their property to be dispersed among their children. Without a valid will, Pennsylvania intestate law will apply. In cases where there is no living spouse, the ownership of the property, including the home, will be divided equally among the decedent’s children. Although this might seem straightforward, complications can arise when siblings cannot agree on what should happen with their parent’s home.

What Are Your Options When You Inherit a Home with Siblings?

A piece of real estate can be a substantial inheritance. But for many people, the home where they grew up can be more than simply an asset — it’s where all their childhood memories were made. Accordingly, when siblings inherit their parent’s house, they may have very different ideas about how the property should be handled. For instance, one sibling might want to keep the property while another may want to sell it and collect the proceeds. Or you might wish to keep it as a rental property, and your sibling may want to keep it for their own family.

Options siblings might consider when they inherit a home from their parent can include the following:

  • Selling the house and splitting the proceeds
  • One sibling buys out the others
  • Rent the house and split the profits each month
  • Keep the house in the family and allow one or more of the siblings to reside there
  • Share the property as equal co-owners
  • Renovate the home and convert it into apartments where each sibling can live

Another issue that should be considered is whether the inherited property still has a mortgage. In such cases, siblings may need to think about whether they want to pool their funds to pay off the mortgage, sell the property to pay off the mortgage and divide the proceeds that remain, or buy out the shares of their siblings. However, if siblings are planning to pool their funds to pay the remainder of the mortgage, they should also consider what should happen if the siblings all make contributions in different amounts.

What Happens When Siblings Can’t Agree How an Inherited Property Should be Divided?

Emotions can run high in the aftermath of a parent’s passing — and it’s not uncommon for disputes to occur between siblings. When siblings cannot agree on what should be done with the property they inherited, mediation can be a useful method to resolve conflicts. Mediation involves the parties having an open discussion facilitated by a neutral party. It is typically faster than probate litigation and much less contentious.

If siblings still cannot reach an agreement concerning how an inherited property should be divided, it may be necessary to file a partition action with the court. This type of action doesn’t divide the house among siblings, but it can force a sale in the event siblings cannot reach an agreement on whether to sell. If one of the siblings decides they would want to keep the house, they could purchase it back during the sale.

Creating a Written Agreement

When you and your siblings reach an agreement regarding what you want to do with the home you inherited, it’s important to draft an agreement in writing. A written agreement can reduce conflict in the future and prevent a person from changing their mind or claiming they were told something other than what is in the document. Each sibling should thoroughly review the agreement and approve it — once it is signed, it becomes binding.

Contact an Experienced Pennsylvania Estate Administration Attorney

The estate administration process can be complicated and stressful — even when siblings agree regarding how their inheritance should be divided. It’s best to have a knowledgeable attorney by your side who can guide you through the process and ensure your interests are protected. The Kulick Law Firm offers trusted legal services and compassionate counsel to clients in Northeastern Pennsylvania for a wide variety of estate administration matters. Call (570) 203-2756 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to learn more about how we can assist you.