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Can siblings force the sale of inherited property?

Can siblings force the sale of inherited property? Yes, generally such property qualifies for a partition action. However, do not simply assume. Educate yourself with this detailed overview of forced sale and partition actions.


When siblings inherit property, many emotional and financial questions begin to surface. Should the property stay in the family? Who manages the property? Who lives in it? Often, multiple siblings cannot agree on the answers to these questions. This leads to the question: can siblings force the sale of inherited property?


Generally, a forced sale occurs through partition, which is explained in more detail here. Before resorting to a forced sale, you should investigate the possibility of a voluntary sale. When siblings receive a letter from an attorney alluding to a forced sale, they might more seriously consider a voluntary sale. Co-owners usually hold an absolute right to partition. This fact can pressure the other siblings into a voluntary sale.


To over-simplify, the forced sale process begins with a petition filed in court. After all parties are served, the property gets appraised. Next, the court determines whether the property can literally be divided into pieces and distributed to the co-owners (rural acreage). If the property cannot be divided literally (a house), then the property must be sold. When the property is sold, the proceeds are divided up and distributed to the owners based on percentage of ownership. However, the money splits might be adjusted based on certain equitable factors (see more detail here).

Once again, begin by ruling out the possibility of a voluntary sale. Next, determine whether you want to hire an attorney. Forced sales require detailed analysis and legal work. Depending on your skill set, you might consider handling it yourself.

View our legal forms related to partition and forced sale.

Still have forced sale questions?