Parents often try to avoid estate disputes by leaving property to children in equal amounts. While this can help when it comes to stocks, bank accounts and other such assets, it can actually cause disputes when it involves real estate.
For instance, imagine that you have two siblings and your parents own a home that is worth $600,000. They leave it to the three of you so that you all control a third.
You and one sibling want to sell. You would rather have the $200,000 because you already own your own homes and have no need for one that you own jointly with someone else. However, your third sibling cannot bear the thought of just selling the family home and refuses to do it.
There are some options in a situation like this, of course. For instance, your third sibling could simply pay $200,000 to the other two of you, buying out your ownership. That sibling can then keep the house, and both of you get the money you wanted anyway.
The hurdle here is that the other sibling may not have $400,000 on hand, or may not want to part with it. Can he or she get a loan? Can your sibling afford the property taxes and other costs alone? Did he or she want to own the house independently, or did your sibling think of this as a fun way for the three of you to have something to share?
There are a lot of questions to ask, but the key is to make sure you know all of your legal options if a dispute arises.