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Siblings have differing plans for inherited property

May 31, 2019
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

My brother and I inherited our mother's home earlier this year. I live here in Florida, while my brother lives in Wisconsin. I would like to sell the property, but he wants to use it as a vacation rental, and for his own use each February. With us having equal ownership, who makes the decision?

- Victor C.

Dear Victor:

Our condolences on the passing of your mother. I am sure it is difficult to have this disagreement with your brother given the circumstances. As equal owners, not only do you both have an equal say of what occurs with the property but you also both have the right to use the property. You could both decide to move in if you wanted. Hopefully, you are both still on speaking terms and may be able to reach an agreement. Ideally, your brother would purchase your interest in the property for fair market value. He could purchase your 50 percent interest with his own funds, borrowed funds or you could even finance his purchase, with him using the rental payments to pay the mortgage to you. If you reach agreement, you will both likely come out better than the alternative, which is filing a partition action in the circuit court. A partition is a legal proceeding when the owners of property cannot decide the disposition of real estate. This will ultimately lead to a settlement where one buys out the other, or a forced sale. As you may expect, a forced sale almost never results in more money than if willing parties make an agreement on price. If your settlement negotiations do not succeed, a partition action is your only alternative for resolution.

I caution my clients when making their estate plans to consider the relationships of those that may inherit real estate. If there is likely to be disagreement, I recommend attempting to split assets in a way that does not force ownership on people that do not get along. I wish you all the best in reaching an amicable resolution with your brother.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 30 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, Cape Coral Historical Museum, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for over 18 years, and they have four children together. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

Mr. Feichthaler can be reached at, or (239) 542-4733.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.



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