How do we get my sibling to cooperate about selling our parent's house?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 03, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My parents died. Although there is not a will, we have all legal documents naming all the 7 children as inheritors. We haven't been able to sell the house in the past 3 years because one of the children refuses to sign or comunicate with us. A lawyer attempted to take her to court and her lawyer said she will cooperate. She has done nothing. House is currently empty.

Expert Answers

Judy and Fred co-mediate family property and financial conflicts, and each work individually as mediators as well. Judy Barber, a mediator and family business consultant, assists clients in resolving overlapping family and money conflicts so they are better able to make sound estate planning decisions. Frederick Hertz is an attorney and mediator who specializes in resolving co-ownership matters involving families, siblings, spouses, cohabitants and domestic partners.

The law in every state allows any co-owner to force a sale of a co-owned house, and it sounds like that is what you are going to have to do. Even though her lawyer said she would cooperate, apparently she hasn't done so. A promise by her lawyer isn't going to be binding on her, so unless your sister has personally promised in writing to participate, our fear is that you will need to get back in touch with your lawyer. He or she will have to do more than just "attempt" to take her to court -- instead, a formal court petition will have to be filed and implemented.

Community Answers

Lus728 answered...

This answer is absolutely on point. State or local bar associations often can direct the cooperating siblings to an attorney who specializes in this area. If any (or all) of the cooperating siblings has an attorney, that attorney can also make a referral to an appropriate attorney.