Forcing the Sale of an Inherited House in California


Can I Force the Sale of Inherited Property?

Understanding exactly what to do after a close family member passes away is one of the most difficult things someone can go through. Before asking whether both owners have to sign to sell a house, a whirlwind of confusion and sadness makes decision making near impossible, especially when real property is involved. Real estate is no doubt a major concern for those who have inherited it. To make matters more complicated, if the property has been inherited by multiple heirs, they may disagree over whether to continue to live in, lease it, or simply sell the property. Tensions with uncooperative co-owners can make the grieving process even more complicated.

If you have a sister, brother, or other co-owner living in your inherited home, you may have to force the sale of the property. Luckily, the real estate attorneys at Talkov Law in California have years of experience handling the forced sale of inherited property through what is known as a partition action.

Do both owners have to sign to sell a house? No!

The Right to Partition of a Jointly Owned Inherited House

Whether you have inherited vacant land or a home with a sibling or other co-owner, the “right to partition is absolute“.[1]Priddel v. Shankie (1945) 69 Cal.App. 2d 319, 325. “Ordinarily, therefore, if a party seeking partition is shown to be a tenant in common or a joint tenant, the right is absolute and cannot be denied, either because of any supposed difficulty or on the suggestion that the interests of the cotenants will be promoted by refusing the application or temporarily postponing the action. The only indispensable requirement is that a clear title be shown, and in no event is a partition to be denied because it might result in financial loss to the cotenants.” [2]48 Cal Jur Partition § 36. This means that all heirs do not have to agree on what to do with the property in order for it to be sold. If even one co-owner wants to sell the property, a partition action will force the sale of the inherited property. An experienced partition attorney can ensure the best outcome for co-owners who disagree.

Can I Sell Inherited Property with Multiple Owners?

The short answer is yes – a partition action can be commenced by any co-owner with an interest in the property. This includes those with even a small fractional interest in the property. Being a majority owner of a property is not a prerequisite to forcing the sale of the jointly owned property. The public policy logic behind this is that few (if any) potential buyers will want to buy a fractional interest in a property. Therefore, forcing the sale of the property ensures that all co-owners can obtain their equitable share of the property once it is sold.

How Inherited Properties End Up With Multiple Owners

When the owner of property dies, the estate can end up with multiple owners of a single property in various ways. First, if a party dies without a trust, or the property is not in a trust, probate may result in each heir receiving a fractional interest in the property.

Further, if a property is owned by co-owners by way of a joint tenancy with right of survivorship, the rights of property ownership will bypass probate and be transferred directly to the surviving co-owner(s). However, this transfer ends the joint tenancy and instead creates a tenancy in common. Tenants in common may find that they disagree on what to do with inherited property.

Even further, an ordinary living trust can leave a property to multiple owners, as can a transfer on death deed.

However the parties ended up in the mess of co-ownership, the law provides only one solution: a partition by sale of the property.

Contact a Real Estate Partition Attorney with Experience in Inherited Property

Navigating the way after the passing of a loved one isn’t easy. Unfortunately, inheriting real property from a deceased loved one can complicate the grieving process even further. The attorneys at Talkov Law are here to help. With attorneys who understand both real estate litigation and probate administration, Talkov Law’s lawyers are poised to help you with any inherited property concerns.

Contact an Experienced Partition Attorney in California

If you want to end your co-ownership relationship, but your co-owner won’t agree, a partition action is your only option. Our knowledgeable partition lawyers have years of experience ending co-ownership disputes and can help you unlock the equity in your property. For a free, 15-minute consultation with an experienced partition attorney at Talkov Law, call (844) 4-TALKOV (825568), email us at info(at), or fill out a contact form online. Contact Talkov Law today to find out how you can pay nothing today and have your legal fees paid from the proceeds of sale of your property!


1 Priddel v. Shankie (1945) 69 Cal.App. 2d 319, 325.
2 48 Cal Jur Partition § 36.
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The attorneys at Talkov Law end co-ownership disputes by representing co-owners in real estate partition actions throughout the State of California.

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