bayview wrote:General question to the knowledgeable posters who have commented:
What (besides deep sympathy to OP) is the take-away from this for others? Can you write something in your Will stating that the heirs have a certain period of time (six months, 11 months, whatever) to sell the real property, whether to one or more heirs or to an outsider? What if the real estate was in a trust?
You can write a will or trust that says all real property should be sold after giving the heirs a chance to make an offer for it. You could put in whatever conditions you want including requiring acceptance of the highest such offer as long as it is at least x% of appraised value.
The OP's mother may have died without a will. In that case I would say each heir should request sale or buyout during probate and not accept partial ownership of the house. That seems easier than having to go to court again later.
Seems to me that if the OP's property were part of the mother's estate, then mother should not have transferred the property in joint tenancy to the children -- if she had a will then the property should have been left as part of her residuary estate to be managed or sold by her Executor with proceeds of the sale going to the ultimate beneficiaries of her residuary estate, namely her chlldren. The Executor could have worked out this issue with family members, easily, as none of the beneficiaries would have substantial leverage over transferring the property within the family or outside of the family.
If the mother died without a will, then presumably the intestate laws of the relevant state dictated that the property become jointly owned by her children -- this is known as "heir property" in many states. For a single family home, where the joint owners can't agree on using or selling the property, one is stuck with the current fiasco. (Ironically, for undeveloped real estate in many rural parts of the country, where heir property is a common situation and where you might have decades of a fiasco situation, the major remedy is legal action to quiet title or a partition suit/sale, and this might be very cost efficient; for a single family home, with five siblings, the legal fees could be very high in relationship to the resulting net proceeds from the sale, especially if this is a contested proceeding, which would likely be the case.)BTW, I would strongly suggest that OP and family enlist the services of a skilled mediator, not arbitrator before one went to lawyers. The family might be served by the intervention of a neutral facilitator.