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 it, 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. The best way to preserve a relationship with a loved one who is also a co-owner may be to terminate the co-ownership relationship. 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.

Talkov Law's Partition Attorneys Can Help

If you want to end your co-ownership relationship, but your co-owner won’t agree, a partition action is your only option. With seven, full time partition lawyers, Talkov Law is the #1 partition law firm in California and has handled over 300 partition actions throughout California. Every case has resulted in a sale to either a third party or one of the co-owners. Not a single court has denied our clients the right to partition or declared our client to be a non-owner. Plus, for qualified cases, there is no fee until we settle or win your case!

If you're looking to end your co-ownership dispute, contact California's premier partition action law firm by calling Talkov Law at (844) 4-TALKOV (825568) or sending us a message today.


1 Priddel v. Shankie (1945) 69 Cal.App. 2d 319, 325.
2 48 Cal Jur Partition § 36.
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The partition 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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