What’s a partition action?

Dividing up the family home, the vacation house or that old piece of wooded property that’s been in the family for generations is never easy. Many people don’t even try. They pass the real estate jointly to their heirs and hope for the best.

That can be a huge mistake.

What can happen when there are multiple heirs to a piece of real estate?

Frequently, the heirs decide to sell the real estate so that they can divide the proceeds up according to their shares. Quite often, however, one of the heirs may balk at that idea. They may want to keep the property in the family or live in the home themselves.

If they can afford to buy the other heirs out at a fair price, all may still be well. But what happens if they can’t? Sometimes the heir who wants to keep the family home may not have the resources to directly pay the other heirs for their share. Other times, the heirs may not be able to agree on what’s actually “fair” when it comes to the property’s value.

That’s where a partition action may come into play. A partition action is a legal maneuver by one or more owners of a piece of real estate that seeks to force its sale.

Can you stop a partition action?

It’s very difficult to stop a partition action entirely. Sometimes the conditions of the will or a contract that’s in place can prevent the sale. Most of the time, however, the best step to take when faced with a partition action is to negotiate with the other heirs.

Partition actions may start even during the probate process, so make sure that you’re thinking ahead if you suspect that one of the other heirs wants to sell. An experienced attorney can help you negotiate a fair deal.