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How to Divide a Family House in an Estate Frequently Asked Questions

One of the most valuable parts of a decedent's estate is the family home. This is particularly true in New York where the value of real estate is among the highest in the nation. However, family members may have different ideas as to what should happen with the family home. Some members of the family may want it to stay in the family, while others may want to sell it as they are in need of cash. Still other family member may live in the house and want to stay there. While it may not be the preferred solution for all family members the best solution may be to divide the property. However, there are a variety of issues that must be examined when considering how to divide a family estate. If you are your family members are struggle with how to divide a family house in an estate following the death of a loved one, contact an experienced New York probate administration lawyer who will help you arrive at a solution that protects your interests.

What are the options for how to divide a family house in an estate?

The options for how to divide a family house in an estate depend on a variety of factors including whether property is still in probate, what the will states, and whether the beneficiaries or co-owners agree on how to the property. The options include:

  • Selling the house during probate
  • Selling the house after probate
  • Family members buying interest from other family members
  • Partitioning the house
How can a family divide a family house that is in an estate?

Probate is the process during which the executor or estate administrator disposes of the property of a decedent. During probate the executor has the authority to manage probate property, including selling property if appropriate. If a house is part of the probate estate the executor must first look to what the will instructs. For example, if the house is left to 3 beneficiaries, but the decedent instructs the executor to sell the house, the executor must do so. The executor would then give the proceeds from the sale of the house to the beneficiaries. As a New York probate administration lawyer will explain, generally the family does not have control over how the estate property is managed during probate. Thus, the family members, particularly those who are not beneficiaries, have little input as to how to divide a family house in an estate during probate. It is up to the executor or estate administrator. However, the executor must do what is in the best interest of the estate.

How can a family divide a house after probate?

Once ownership of the house has been transferred to the beneficiaries or heirs, the executor no longer has authority over the property. The owner or co-owners can decide how to dispose of the property if they choose to do so, including one or more family member buying out others.

What does it mean to partition a house?

Partition is an option for co-owners of real estate such as a family home, in situations where one or more co-owners wants to sell the property but the other co-owner or co-owners does not wish to sell. Because the law does not like the idea of forcing someone to maintain ownership of property that he or she does not want, along with the financial responsibility that goes along with property ownership, the law provides that a co-owner can petition the court to partition. The court will force the sale of the house and give the former co-owners the proceeds based on percentage of ownership. While not everyone will be happy with partition, in cases where owners cannot agree, with the help of a skilled probate administration attorney in New York, partition may be the best solution for how to divide a family house in an estate.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

When multiple family members have an ownership interest in a family home, and have diverging opinions as to what should happen to it, it is difficult to come up with a solution as to how to divide a family house in an estate that satisfies all parties. However, there are options to consider. The New York attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have extensive experience representing beneficiaries, heirs, and executors in matters related to selling estate property and complex estate litigation. Contact a probate administration attorney serving New York at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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Mr. Bilkis handled both my father and mother's estate issues through very difficult times he was compassionate kind and understanding. In fact the whole firm showed great empathy. Despite the emotional hard time we were having that quickly and efficiently handle all the matters that were necessary to get us the result we desired. Can't recommend them enough. B.B.
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