It was a difficult time for Allen, Kathy and Richard. They had just lost their mother not long after their father passed away, and beyond grieving, they faced an all-too-common problem: siblings fighting over the house they inherited.
“It all happened so fast,” Allen remembers, “And unfortunately, the right safeguards weren’t put into the will. The house was just left to the three of us without any real directions on what to do with it.” Allen and Richard wanted to know how much cash they could get for the house, so they contacted our agent, Corey. They liked the offer on the house and presented it to Kathy.
Kathy, however, lived in the house and was used to not paying taxes. It was an easy situation for her and she didn’t want to leave, so she demanded more money for the inconvenience it would have caused her. No bigger cut, no deal, and her full refusal to move.
“We could have taken her to court,” Corey said, “But almost all of the time, that does way more harm than good. Who wants to divide a family like that?”
Indeed, when siblings exhaust all roads to an amicable agreement and are in a standoff, it creates a worst-case scenario. Allen and Richard would have had to file an inheritance partition, which is when the court divides a concurrent estate into separate portions representing the proportionate interests of the heirs. The court forces the sale of the property and divides the assets. Sometimes, the court will even auction off the house right there at the courthouse, resulting in even less money for everyone. Add on legal fees, and it’s a financial hit to everyone involved. Considering this financial sacrifice along with the emotional turmoil each party endures (families rarely ever survive the lengthy and angsty process), everyone comes out on the losing side. Being “legally right” is never worth a peaceful, yet sometimes not ideal, resolution.
Thankfully, Big State offered more to Allen, Richard and Kathy than a solid offer on the house. Through expert conflict resolution and a little creativity, Corey offered a peaceful solution. “I was able to convince Kathy to take a higher amount,” he said. “In other words, I convinced the two brothers to take a smaller cut so she could receive more. She was happy with that arrangement, and it went through. Was it a perfect solution? No, but it was a workable solution.”
In this case, the brothers put sound legal, financial and emotional advice above their egos, understanding that a little less money in their pockets compared to what their sister received was worth avoiding the greater costs to everyone. If you find yourself in this situation, remember how much your parents hated seeing you fight with your siblings. Now think about how heartbroken they’d be if they knew their deaths were the cause of an all-out war. Take the high road, even when others refuse to—and when emotions run too deeply, remember that there are professionals experienced in inherited property split between siblings who can offer an objective point of view and a harmonious resolution. It worked for Kathy, Richard and Allen:
“It’s what Mom would have wanted.”
Note: Names changed to respect the identities of the clients (“Kathy,” “Richard” and “Allen”).