James and Bonnie Bailey were ecstatic when they learned they had inherited their Great Aunt Grace's family home. But their excitement soon soured when James, who wanted to sell the property and split the profits with his sister, found out Bonnie was planning to live in the house. Lack of estate planning before a loved one's death can easily escalate into a full-fledged real estate dispute later. And disputes such as this one are more common than you may think. It doesn't matter how the property has come into your possession - through inheritance, as a gift from a living friend or relative or in a situation where nonrelated people purchased property together - make it your business to know what your rights are.
There are many reasons for wanting to sell a co-owned property (referred to as cotenancy). Often times the property is located out of state and you may not want to maintain something you cannot personally supervise. Even if you do live close to the property, you may be too busy or just not be interested in it. You may have purchased the property with a significant other during better times. Whatever the circumstances, you now may want to cash out your portion of the investment.
When you have a dispute between real estate co-owners, the key is to get all parties to agree. No one is going to buy a one half interest in a house and move in with the person who doesn't want to sell. There is no such thing as a sale of half a house. How do you ever find consensus? Through education and through understanding of your legal rights.
At Berger & Kindberg Law, we not only understand the law but the business of cotenancy and want to work with you to come to the best solution possible. In North Carolina, the law dictates that if just one of the co-owners wants to sell the property, this request takes precedent over the co-owners who do not wish to sell. With all the complexities involved (including tax planning) it's always best to seek the advice of a legal professional.
It is our hope that once everyone understands their rights and the law that all parties will end up working together, but if a reasonable solution cannot be worked out, Berger & Kindberg Law will aggressively work to assert and protect your interest in a way to get you the maximum expectation under the law.
Other related topics:
• Inherited property
• Real estate gifts
• Purchasing property with significant others
• Planning for the succession of real estate (estate planning)