Fixing Ugly Property Disputes Between Heirs: From Sibling Rivalry To Resolution

Feb 29, 2024 | Partition Action

If you are an heir who cannot agree with your siblings regarding the way an inherited property should be divided, or if you have questions regarding the distribution of what you consider to be part of your fair division, this article is for you. Divvying up inherited property can be tricky, but by utilizing the correct framework and the right kind of help, you can ensure that you will receive your fair share.

Understanding Partition Actions For Inherited Property

Heirs sometimes fight over the division of inherited property. Typically, the deceased parents of the heirs might leave a single property to all of their children. If this is the case, the siblings may disagree on how the property should be shared. One, or more, of the siblings may want to keep the property for themselves, while the others may want to sell it. Or, one or more of the siblings may have sentimental attachments to the property that are not shared by the others. Some of the siblings may want to use the sale of the property to pay off debts or to invest, while others may want to keep the property and use it as a primary residence.

If the estate was left in a will with no specific guidelines, the heirs may argue over what should happen to the property. In such cases where competing interests exist and the heirs cannot agree on how to divide the property, a partition action may be necessary.

Before filing a partition action against one of your siblings, it might be helpful to have a solid understanding of what a partition action is and what can be expected should you decide to proceed down that path. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind what’s ultimately important and evaluate the cost and benefits of pursuing legal action at the potential cost of jeopardizing family relationships.

What Is A Partition Action?

Simply stated, a partition action is a court-ordered legal process that allows the court to divide a property among the heirs. Both properties owned by a single heir and properties owned by several heirs are subject to the process. It is usually used when heirs cannot agree on the division of property among themselves.

How Are Inheritance Partitions Unique?

Although inheritance partition actions are essentially no different than other partition actions, the nature of the relationships between the parties can be vastly different and present their own unique set of challenges. What makes inheritance partition actions different from other types of partition actions is that unlike business and divorce partition actions, which start when a relationship ends and property is divided, inheritance partition actions are usually started without any animosity between the involved parties. However, it is easy to see how partition actions can lead to resentment and the breakdown of relationships with siblings and joint heirs after the fact.

Another factor that is unique to inheritance disputes as compared to other partition actions is the total number of parties involved. With inheritance partition actions, there are often more than two parties (as in cases of divorce and most business partnerships), which can complicate the process and make it more difficult to reach a compromise.

Here are some other differences between inheritance partition actions and other partition actions to take note of:

Nature Of The Relationship

  • Divorce partition: divorcing spouses must divide jointly owned property in a divorce partition action. The dispute involves dividing marital assets
  • Business partition: involves business partners who co-own property Partners disagree when the partnership dissolves and they must divide the assets
  • Inheritance partition: involves family members arguing over inherited property. Heirs disagree on how to divide inheritance assets, causing conflict

Legal Framework

  • Divorce partition: equitable distribution, family, and divorce laws govern divorce partition actions. The court allocates assets based on marriage length, spouse contributions, and needs
  • Business partition: governed by partnership, corporate, or contractual laws. A limited liability company or corporation’s legal principles determine business partners’ rights and obligations
  • Inheritance partition: succession and inheritance laws govern inheritance partition actions. These laws may cover intestate succession, wills, probate, and trusts

Emotional Factors

  • Divorce partition: actions involve the emotional strain of ending a marriage, potential resentment, and the need to divide shared assets while dealing with personal issues
  • Business partition: although emotions may arise, ending a business partnership usually involves money, legal obligations, and the business’s closure. People often approach conflicts like business
  • Inheritance partition: since inheritance partition proceedings involve family relationships, grievances, and long-term effects, they can be emotionally charged. Sentimental ties to inherited property and competing expectations may increase emotion

The relational aspect of an inheritance partition action is truly what sets it apart from other disputes. Partition actions have the potential to have long lasting effects on the relationships of the heirs as a direct consequence of the decisions made. If you have concerns about how the impact of a partition action may affect your relationship with your family members, you should consult with an attorney, and ask them about alternative methods for solving your dispute.

Alternative Methods For Dispute Resolution

Parties can settle their disagreement about the division of property without going to court by using one of many alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods. Partition usually involves one or more of these ADR options:

  • Mediation: A neutral mediator helps both sides figure out what they want, look at their options, and come to an agreement on how to solve the problem without making a decision. An ADR settlement is reached when both sides sign an agreement to settle.
  • Arbitration: A neutral arbitrator or panel of arbitrators listens to both sides’ arguments and evidence and then makes a decision that everyone must follow. Arbitration is less formal than a court trial but usually follows agreed-upon rules of procedure, and the decision is usually final and binding.
  • Collaborative law: Each side hires a lawyer to help them come to an agreement. The sides often get together to talk about their needs and share information in order to come up with a creative way to divide the property. Once all the problems are solved, the lawyers write up a settlement agreement.
  • Settlement: Lawyers can negotiate an informal settlement in addition to formal ADR options. These negotiations include different types of communication, such as talking or writing emails to talk about options, make things clearer, and find a middle ground.

ADR in partition cases makes it easier for the parties to talk to each other, work together, and be in charge. It also saves time, money, and stress compared to going to court if settlement talks fail, and it can be a much more peaceful way to settle a number of very contentious issues. If alternative dispute resolution (ADR) does not work, the parties can go to court to get the property divided.

The Upside Of Having Our Partition Action Attorney On Your Side

It goes without saying that the stakes of a legal battle with family members over real estate are far more substantial than most people can handle on their own. Thus, the guidance of a qualified real estate attorney is vital to achieving a successful outcome. Here are just a few of the benefits hiring a real estate attorney has to offer with your partition case:

  • Legal experience with inherited property laws and regulations
  • Comprehensive case evaluation to determine the best strategy
  • Skilled representation and effective negotiation
  • Experienced court representation throughout the litigation process
  • Access to professional network and valuable resources
  • Peace of mind knowing you have dedicated professionals by your side

If you are a beneficiary of your parents’ property but have a disagreement with your sibling regarding its division or usage, you may be feeling overwhelmed, especially if you hope to maintain a close relationship with them in the future. If you need guidance on how to handle the situation, you can contact our firm, which has extensive experience in handling such matters.

Our team can explain your options and provide you with the best advice for moving forward. Your initial consultation is complimentary, and we will clearly explain your options, giving you the confidence and peace of mind you need to proceed. Contact The Law Offices of Patel & Cardenas today and see how we can help!

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