I Have Co-inherited Real Estate. What Happens Now?

I Have Co-inherited Real Estate. What Happens Now?

When people plan for their estates, they often leave their closest loved ones real property. Sometimes, a decedent’s will or other testamentary documents will direct a single dwelling or parcel of land to be left to multiple heirs. These inheritances are ordinarily passed with love and the best of intentions. However, when more than one person inherits the same home or piece of property, they may not always agree about its future use. The greater the number of heirs, the greater the chance that there will be conflicting opinions. ?If you have co-inherited real estate, you will want to know: What happens now? The good news is that you have options regarding how to manage your part of the inheritance.

Joint Tenancies and Tenancies in Common

When multiple people inherit property such as a house, condominium, or tract of land together, they become co-owners. Depending on the terms of the conveying testamentary document, you may have co-inherited property as a joint tenant with the right of survivorship or as a tenant in common.

Joint Tenancy with the Right of Survivorship

Generally, a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship is when two or more people own an equal share of property together. The interest is undivided, meaning that no part of the land or home belongs explicitly to any particular owner. Each co-owner has an equal and undivided interest in the property or unity of interest. If no action is taken to divide these ownership rights, a joint tenant’s ownership interest will pass to the surviving joint tenants upon a co-owner’s death.

Tenancy in Common

A tenancy in common is a way of owning a property where each party has their own independent undivided ownership rights to a property. The tenant’s rights can be divided disproportionately or evenly. For instance, Tenant A could have a 30% interest in a parcel of land, while Tenant B has a 45% interest, and Tenant C has a 25% interest. Unlike a joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, when a tenant in common dies, their interest in the property will pass through their individual estate rather than reverting to the co-owners of the property.

The more heirs who inherit property, the more complicated a tenancy can become.? With a small amicable group, you may be able to reach an agreement about what to do with a dwelling or parcel. However, it?s not uncommon for co-owners to disagree about a property?s use. When co or joint tenants can?t agree, the resulting conflict can escalate fairly quickly.? Fortunately, there are options when co-owners can?t agree on what to do with jointly inherited property.

Partition Actions

When co-owners won’t or can’t agree on managing or using inherited real property, one or more of them can file a partition action. A partition action is a lawsuit where a property co-owner asks to sub-divide their interest out of the jointly-owned property.

If an Arizona co-owner wants to file a partition action, they can file a complaint in the Superior Court in the county where the land is located. The pleading will be served on the other owners, identify who they are and their addresses, the interest each owner claims in the property, and include a description of the property.

The court will conduct a hearing to determine each co-owner’s interest. It will also appoint an independent commissioner to oversee the property division. If the commission determines that an equitable division of the property cannot be made, it will issue a report to the court to that effect. If the court approves the report, it will order a sale of the property that is incapable of partition, and the sale proceeds will be divided between the owners.

Partition actions can be a legal solution for co-owners who can’t agree on how to use their jointly inherited property. Partition actions can be complicated, and it’s crucial that you understand the process and your options before filing. If you have a co-inherited property in Arizona and need help, you should contact an experienced Arizona real estate attorney to help you evaluate the situation and find the best solution for your circumstances.

Laura B. Bramnick is an Arizona real estate attorney with the knowledge and experience you need to protect your interests during every stage of your real estate matter. If you are seeking an exceptional, client-driven real estate lawyer in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Sedona, and throughout the State of Arizona, contact Laura B. Bramnick to schedule your consultation.

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