How should the children sell and divide the family home?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 23, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother recently passed away. She took care of all her legal issues except her home. There are six children. What is the easiest way to sell the home? Can we give the home to one person, and let him or her sell it for the rest of us?

Expert Answers

Liza Hanks is the founder and owner of FamilyWorks Estate Planning, a law firm with offices in Campbell and Los Altos, California, and the author of The Busy Family's Guide to Estate Planning (Nolo, 2007).

I'm assuming that your mother either left a will, leaving all her property to you six children equally, or left no will.

Either way, you can't sell the home without a probate proceeding confirming that you own it. You'll need to consult with the local probate court if there are no other issues or consider hiring a lawyer to get that proceeding started.

Once you've got legal title to the house, you are free and clear to sell it, but not before that.

It would not be a good idea, from a tax perspective, to have one sibling get the whole house, sell it, and then divide the proceeds. The IRS would say that the owner sibling was making a gift to his or her other siblings; the house would not be considered an inheritance from your mother.