Do Heirs Have to Agree to Sell Inherited Property?

Do All Heirs Have to Agree to Sell Inherited Property?

Updated on June 5, 2024

Understanding Complexities in Real Estate Inheritance

Inheriting property can be a complex and emotionally charged process, especially when multiple heirs are involved.

In the context of inheriting property, heirs are the individuals who are legally entitled to receive a portion of the deceased’s estate.

This can include spouses, children, grandchildren, or other close relatives, depending on the terms of the will or applicable inheritance laws.

The number and relationship of the heirs can have a significant impact on the decision-making process when it comes to managing the inherited property.

One common question that arises in such situations is whether all heirs must first agree to sell inherited property.

The answer, as is often the case in legal matters, is: it depends.

Several factors come into play, and the specifics can vary based on the jurisdiction and the nature of the property.

In this article, we’ll explore different scenarios where the agreement of all heirs may or may not be necessary.

Default Rule: Unanimity Required to Sell Inherited Property

In many jurisdictions, the default rule is that all heirs must agree to sell inherited property.

This rule is based on the idea that each heir has an undivided interest in the property, and the sale of the property affects the rights of all heirs.

Therefore, the consent of all heirs is typically required to ensure that each heir’s interests are protected.

Of course, you if you cannot voluntarily obtain their consent, the any of the heirs have the option to try to force a sale through a partition action or possibly an action in the probate court depending on the circumstances.

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Exceptions to the Rule

While unanimity is the general rule, there are several exceptions where all heirs may not need to agree to sell property:

  • Executor’s Authority: If the property is part of an estate, the executor or personal representative of the estate may have the authority to sell the property without the consent of all heirs. The executor is responsible for managing the estate and distributing its assets according to the will or state law.
  • Partition Action: In cases where heirs cannot agree on the disposition of the property, any heir can file a partition action. This legal proceeding allows the court to order the sale of the property and divide the proceeds among the heirs. In a partition action, the consent of all heirs is not required, as the court’s decision supersedes the heirs’ individual preferences.
  • Minority Heirs: If some of the heirs are minors or incapacitated, the court may authorize the sale of the property without their consent. This is done to protect the interests of the minor or incapacitated heirs and ensure that they receive their fair share of the proceeds from the sale.
  • Trust Provisions: If the property is held in a trust, the terms of the trust may dictate how the property can be sold. In some cases, the trust may allow the trustee to sell the property without the consent of all beneficiaries.
  • State Law Variations: State laws can vary regarding the requirements for selling inherited property. Some states may have specific provisions that allow for the sale of property with the agreement of a majority of heirs, rather than all heirs. In California, the Right of Survivorship allows the surviving co-owner automatically to inherit the deceased co-owner’s share, bypassing the need for unanimity among heirs if the property is held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship or tenancy by the entirety.
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Do Hiers Have to Agree to ?

Challenges and Considerations

Navigating the sale of inherited property can be challenging, especially when heirs have conflicting interests or when the property is subject to complex legal issues. Here are some key considerations:

  • Communication: Open and honest communication among heirs is essential to reach a consensus on the sale of inherited property. Heirs should discuss their individual preferences and concerns to find a mutually acceptable solution.
  • Legal Guidance: It’s advisable to seek the advice of a qualified attorney who specializes in estate planning and probate law. An attorney can help heirs understand their rights and obligations and navigate the legal complexities of selling inherited property.
  • Fair Market Value: Heirs should obtain a professional appraisal to determine the fair market value of the property. This can help ensure that the property is sold at a fair price, which is important to protect the interests of all heirs.
  • Tax Implications: The sale of inherited property can have tax implications, including capital gains tax or stepped up basis calculations. Heirs should consult with a tax advisor to understand the tax consequences of selling the property and explore any available tax planning strategies.
  • Emotional Considerations: Inherited property can hold sentimental value for heirs, and the decision to sell the property can be emotionally charged. Heirs should take the time to consider their emotional attachment to the property and weigh it against their financial needs and objectives.

In conclusion, while all heirs typically need to agree to sell inherited property, there are exceptions to this rule. It’s important for heirs to understand their rights and obligations under state law and seek legal guidance to navigate the complexities of selling inherited property.

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Open communication, careful consideration of all factors, and professional advice can help heirs make informed decisions that protect their interests and preserve family harmony.

The Los Angeles attorneys at Schorr Law can help with this situation plus many others. Contact our office today to set up a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys by calling (310)954-1877 or filling out our contact form here.