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What is an inheritance partition?

You and your brother inherit your parent's home. It is worth at least $500,000 in the current market. While the will divides up a lot of other assets -- life insurance, bank accounts, etc. -- it simply leaves you both the house, so you have a 50 percent share.

You already own a home with your family, however. You do not need a second house. While you have good memories of growing up there, you know that the best thing to do is to sell the house. If you get $500,000, then you can use your $250,000 to pay off the rest of the mortgage on your own home and set up college funds for your children.

The conflict

Your brother, however, was still living with your parents when they passed away. He had moved back in after losing his job and he never left. He is used to living rent-free, without paying for utilities, property taxes or anything else. He already has to adjust to those payments, so he says you can't sell the house. He's going to keep living in it, rather than selling it and buying his own home. He could never afford a house this nice on his own.

What now?

A partition action

You do have a number of options. You can simply allow your brother to live there, deciding you do not need the money badly enough to kick him out. However, that hurts you and your spouse, financially speaking, along with your children.

Another option is to ask your brother to buy out your share of the home. He just inherited other money from your parents. Does he now have enough to buy your half for $250,000? That way, you get your money out of the property and he doesn't have to move.

If these do not work, though, you may have to go to court and ask for an inheritance partition. Essentially, the court determines what percentage of the asset you own -- a simple 50 percent in this case -- and then forces the sale of the house. Sometimes, the court does this at auction. Afterward, the court takes the percentage of the proceeds that belongs to both people and distributes the money.

In short, this action forces your brother to comply with your wishes. The house gets sold to a third party and you divide the money. Since there is no functional way to divide the real estate itself, the court sees this as a fair solution -- even though your brother may not like it.

Understanding your options

In complex real estate cases, you can see that it is very important to know about all of your legal options. Make sure you really know where you stand and what rights you have.

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