When siblings disagree on the sale of inherited property, what are the options?


My mother passed away years ago, and my sister and I now own a five-acre tract of property in a rural area. The property taxes are fairly small and, thus far, I have seen to it that they have been paid with no contribution from her. I would like to sell the property, but my sister is opposed and wants to keep it. What options do I have to sell this asset?

A. The best option is for you to approach your sister and try to talk her into agreeing to sell or possibly dividing the property so that each of you owns part of it.

If you explain to her that her resistance leaves you with no option other than going to court, then she might agree to sell. The last thing you want is to be forced to hire an attorney and file a law suit to be able to sell.

Under a Texas law known as the “Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act,” in a situation like yours where siblings own inherited property, and at least one co-owner refuses to sell, the other owner (or owners) who do want to sell can go court and force a sale or a division of the property. You can read the Act at Once there click on “property code” and then chapter 23A.

The requirements contained in the Act are complicated. Each of you would need to hire a lawyer, a law suit would need to be filed in court, and a fee would need to be paid to an appraiser to value the property. Your sister would be given the right to buy out your half interest, but if she does not want to do so, then the court will order that the property must either be divided or sold.

Some properties can’t be divided. For instance, your five acres might have a house right in the middle of the property, thus making a division impossible.

Lawyer’s fees, court costs, appraisal fees, months or even years of delays would result in you and your sister each receiving much less than if the two you simply agree to sell the property (or to have your sister buy your interest). Plus, you would both save countless hours of wasted time.

If you are not able to convince your sister to sell, you should find a real estate attorney, preferably in the county where the property is located. Maybe a letter from that attorney to your sister explaining the steps that will eventually take place will convince her that it’s best to agree to sell without going to court.

The information in this column is intended to provide a general understanding of the law, not legal advice. Ronald Lipman of the Houston law firm Lipman & Associates is board-certified in estate planning and probate law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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