Probate & Partition Actions
When an estate consists of only cash, dividing it between beneficiaries is easy. Unfortunately, most people have other assets which cannot be so neatly divided. In particular, cars and real estate cannot be cut in half; instead, they usually need to be sold.
Florida probate law provides for something called a partition action. This is a legal action to divide property, and you can use it to force a sale. Once an asset is sold, the proceeds are distributed according to the estate plan.
If you are fighting with siblings or other beneficiaries over how to divide property, contact our probate lawyer in The Villages today.
Florida’s Law on Partition Actions
Florida law allows more than one person to own property. However, when one owner wants to sell, a problem can arise if the other owners refuse to go along. This conflict can be resolved with a partition action.
Florida Statute § 733.814 is the relevant law. It allows a beneficiary of an undivided interest to ask the court to split up the property or to sell it. If the property consists of a large tract of undeveloped land, then it might be possible to cut it into pieces and transfer title to each plot to individual beneficiaries. However, most property with a building on it must be sold to properly divide the equity. For this reason, a partition action is really a way to force a sale.
You bring the action as part of the probate so long as a probate case has been opened. If it hasn’t been opened, or if it is closed, you can file a separate lawsuit asking for partition. There are very few defenses an owner can raise, so most partition actions are usually successful.
Should You Request Partition?
The most common situation where you seek partition is when the other people who inherited the property along with you do not want to sell. Most often, these other beneficiaries are your siblings. Some might have sentimental attachments to the home. Others might drag their feet because they are indecisive or because they feel overwhelmed by the process. As the property sits unoccupied, it might lose value.
One situation to avoid arises when one sibling wants to actually move into the home and live there without paying rent or making any payment to the other siblings. Although they are not the sole owner, they seek the sole benefit of living in the property!
Filing a partition action is one way to actually sell the property over the objections of the other owners. Though reaching an agreement might be better—and less costly—it isn’t always possible.
Of course, one sibling might want to hold onto the property, in which case he or she can buy out the others’ interest. This will allow any sibling with a sentimental attachment to the home to hang onto the property. In this way, an action for partition can be a bargaining chip to get a resistant sibling to come to the table to discuss buying you out.
Call Us to Learn More
Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group has tackled countless probate issues in Florida’s courts, and we can bring a partition action on your behalf. Call us to learn more, 800-743-9732. Our consultations are free.