Can Siblings Force The Sale Of Inherited Property?
When siblings inherit a property the best case scenario is that they all agree on what to do with it next. Unfortunately differences of opinion are common, causing divisions at an already difficult time, but without going to court one sibling can’t force another to sell an inherited home against their will.
If you’ve inherited a home and would like to sell it quickly, we’re experienced at dealing sensitively with customers in stressful and emotionally challenging times.
The probate process
When someone dies and they do not have a spouse to automatically inherit their assets, an executor – often a close friend or family member appointed in the will – will settle their affairs, pay taxes and distribute inheritances. They may hire a solicitor to help them do this.
This is known as probate and includes the process of passing on a home. During probate the executor will transfer ownership of a home to those inheriting it.
Ownership of an inherited home
If there is a will it will usually state what kind of ownership those inheriting a home will have. It will either be as joint tenants or tenants in common. If a will doesn’t say, or there isn’t a will, the default ownership is tenants in common.
The nature of ownership has implications on what you may want to do next. A joint tenancy means siblings will jointly own the whole property, if one dies the others will inherit their share. That means the final surviving sibling will own 100% of the property and be able to pass that on to whoever they choose.
By contrast, as tenants in common each sibling has a defined share of the property which they can pass on to anybody they wish in their will. It is not automatically inherited by their siblings.
Options when you inherit a property
The easiest option is to sell an inherited home and divide it equally, or as stipulated in the will, between siblings. If one or more siblings does not want to sell the others can apply to court for partition and an order to sell. It would take a compelling argument for a court to force a sale and it’s a costly and divisive process, so is very much seen as a last resort. It is even less likely to succeed if the sibling lives in the home, especially if they have children.
In many cases siblings will come to another arrangement such as:
- Renting the home out and sharing the profits.
- One sibling renting the home off the others.
- One sibling buying the other siblings’ share of the property.
- Delaying the sale until a higher price can be obtained.
- If the home owners are tenants in common, one sibling could sell their share to a trusted third party.
- Siblings share the property as a main residence.
Inheriting with a mortgage
If you inherit a home that still has a mortgage attached to it the lender will usually agree to freeze payments until probate has finished, although they may add interest to the mortgaged amount. If the owner had a life insurance policy or there is enough money in the rest of the estate, these can be used to pay off the mortgage.
If not, you’ll probably need to get a new mortgage in your name which means you will be subject to the usual affordability checks. If you already have a mortgage or a poor credit rating this may prove difficult. In which case there is little choice but to sell the home to cover the money owed.
Tax implications of your decision
Homes are part of a person’s estate and are subject to inheritance tax unless a surviving spouse is the beneficiary. A person can pass on £325,000 tax free or £500,000 if their estate includes a home. This threshold is passed onto a spouse, so they could pass on up to £1million to their children or grandchildren tax free. Inheritance tax is applied at 40% to anything beyond this figure.
As part of probate a home will be valued. If siblings hold onto the home but it doesn’t become their main residence and has risen in value when they come to sell it, they will have to pay capital gains tax on that rise in value. So if it rises from £300,000 to £400,000, they will have to pay the tax on £100,000.
Although there is no stamp duty to pay on an inherited property, if one sibling buys another sibling’s share there maybe, depending on their circumstances. If you decide to rent the property out you will have to pay income tax on the profits it generates. It’s also worth factoring the costs and hassles that come with being a landlord into your decision. Are you willing to take those on?
Whatever you decide these are complex matters, so it’s always worth getting advice from a tax expert or solicitor.
Selling an inherited home quickly
You may want to realise the value of an inherited home as quickly as possible, perhaps to pay an outstanding mortgage or simply so that you no longer have it weighing on your mind.
We specialise in buying homes swiftly in sensitive situations such as those involving inheritance. We do everything we can to take on most of the hassles of selling a home, such as organising valuations and dealing with solicitors whose costs we cover. There are also no estate agent fees to pay when you work with us and because we can buy a home in just seven days, mortgage payments won’t build up.
If you think we can help you, get in touch for a chat.