How to Split an Inherited House in Pennsylvania
Updated: Sep 8
Inheriting a house can be both a blessing and a challenge. While receiving property from a loved one is a privilege, dividing it among multiple beneficiaries can often lead to disagreements and complications.
If you find yourself in such a situation where you and other beneficiaries can’t agree on the sale or management of the house, Pennsylvania law allows any co-owner to initiate a partition action.
What Occurs to a Jointly Owned Property When One of the Owners Passes Away?
In cases with a right of survivorship, like joint tenancy, the surviving owner automatically inherits the deceased owner's share.
However, if the property is held as tenants in common, each owner has a distinct share that their estate inherits upon death. The share distribution depends on the deceased owner's will or the laws of intestate succession, and probate may be required to transfer ownership.
To ensure proper estate planning, consulting with an attorney is crucial. They can guide alternative arrangements like trusts or life estates tailored to individual circumstances and goals.
Is It Possible for a Single Sibling to Force the Sale of an Inherited House?
According to Pennsylvania partition actions governed by Rules 1551 – 1574 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, a sibling can force a sale of a house by filing a partition action.
Although an option in a partition action includes splitting the property, this is usually unfeasible. Most times, a court orders a sale as dividing properties is not feasible, such as in the case of a single-family home.
As a result, the house is sold, and the proceeds are shared among the beneficiaries. So, yes, a single sibling does not need the consent of others and can force the sale of the house.
What If a Sibling Living in an Inherited Property Declines to Sell?
When one sibling refuses to sell an inherited property, mediation can facilitate discussions and find compromises, such as the sibling living in the house to buy out others.
However, if communication fails, the parties willing to sell can consider legal action through a partition action. The proceeds from the sale are then shared among the beneficiaries. However, this should be a last resort. Seeking guidance from an estate attorney is advisable to understand rights and options.
Can I Challenge a Partition Action?
Contesting a partition action is possible if you have valid grounds to object. Possible reasons for contesting include legal defects, unfair distribution, co-ownership agreements, or improper valuation.
Seeking assistance from a real estate attorney is crucial to navigating the complex process. Before resorting to litigation, exploring alternative solutions and open communication with co-owners is advisable.
Protect Your Rights and Interests by Scheduling a Free Consultation Today
Disputes involving inherited property can damage familial relations for life if not handled wisely.
If you’re seeking a partition of property, trying to defend or stop a partition action, or are interested in negotiating a settlement, it’s crucial to have a tested real estate attorney on your side to protect your interests and ensure a favorable outcome is reached. Contact us today for a free consultation.