Expert Advice – Inheriting a House with Siblings


Photo of inheriting a house with siblings.

Inheriting a home can be exciting, but when it comes to inheriting a house with siblings, the process can also become difficult, both emotionally and financially. Many families experience conflict and personality clashes at the best of times, and during a stressful time of loss, families can be more prone to falling into disagreement, especially over how to handle shared assets.  When a loved one wills property or assets jointly to family members, disputes can and often do arise, sometimes more commonly with a high value inheritance.

If you find yourself in this situation, take a step back and try to work together with your siblings to explore options for the best solution moving forward.  Taking time to hear each other out can help improve communication and lower the likelihood of sibling strife as you proceed forward with the new asset. Several options that should be considered when making decisions after inheriting a house with siblings include: selling the home, buying out the other siblings’ share(s), or continued shared ownership.

Inheriting a House with Siblings: Important Steps Before Making a Decision

One of the first steps that happens at the beginning of the inheritance process is notification by the executor of an estate that you and your siblings have jointly inherited a house. According to, the executor will provide the probate court with a death certificate, trust documents, the estate plan and inventory of the estate’s assets and debts.

After processing notification of the inheritance, the next step when working through inheriting a house with siblings is to have a meeting with the other inheritors to collect information to inform future decisions.  Essential items to discuss at this initial meeting include:

  • Equal Share of Ownership and Liabilities:  Unless otherwise stated in the will, ensure that each of the siblings has equal share of the property ownership as well as equal share of any debts, such as a mortgage, utilities and maintenance.
  • Title Check: To make sure the property has no outstanding liens, recommends getting a title check very early in the process.
  • On Site Visit & Inspection:  Visit the property and inspect it to identify any damage, deferred maintenance, and water or gas leaks that need to be addressed.
  • Insurance:  Contact the property insurer to see if the current policy can transferred into one or more of the new sibling owner’s names.

After the information collection phase, it’s time to start considering your options and using what you learned to help you and your siblings make the best decision to suit your situation.  The property’s location, condition, and value, as well as the estate’s debts, can help you determine which of the following options fits best for you when inheriting a house with siblings:

  1. Keep the house
  2. Sell the home
  3. Rent the house to tenants
  4. Occupy the property

Inheriting a House with Siblings: What About The Mortgage?

If there’s a mortgage, there is some additional decision-making to be done.  Below are different options to talk over and consider with your siblings including: keep making the payments, refinance to a lower interest rate, rent the property, or sell the property and split the profits.

Keep Making The Payments

Consider with your siblings whether it’s feasible to keep making the payments on the property to allow the family to enjoy it for years to come. In the Lake Placid region, this often occurs on inherited lake properties that have become the family camp or retreat over the years. With many shared memories and experiences at the property, many siblings in this situation choose to keep the house and continue paying on the mortgage.  While selling may seem like the more lucrative option, some families choose to keep making the payments, realizing that memories of a special location cannot be replaced.

Refinance The Home

If one sibling expresses a wish to sell the property and the other wants to keep it, refinancing the home is an option. If the sibling who wants to keep the property doesn’t have the money to buy the other sibling out of their share upfront, an option is to refinance the property with a hard money lender.  This type of lender can provide a short term loan to buy the other sibling out of their share.

Another option may be refinancing at a lower rate all-together, and setting up a payment plan down the line to release the property to the one sibling. The final option with refinancing is just to lower the payments so affording the monthly payments becomes more affordable for all of the siblings.

Rent The Property

Renting the property is always an option too, especially if both siblings are on a tight budget, but want to keep the home. Throughout our region, options include either short term rental or long term rental. Currently, Lake Placid short term rentals are limited by local ordinance which requires a little extra research and planning.  However, if you are not in a rush to use the home, long term rentals (over 1 month) may be the best option to generate some revenue to help you keep the home.  Tenants’ rent payments can help relieve some of the expense burden of the home until you are ready to enjoy it.

Other areas outside and around Lake Placid still allow owners to facilitate short term rentals providing more flexibility. If you are hoping to use the property throughout the year, short term renting may be your best option.  Short term renting allows you to block out weekends to use the home yourself.

Sell The Property

The final option may also be the easiest when inheriting a house with siblings:  selling the property. If there is no interest in keeping the home, work with your siblings to have a professional appraisal done. This determines market value so all siblings can feel comfortable exploring and setting sale price. After the appraisal, discuss with your siblings whether to list with a real estate agency or try to sell the home by yourselves. Once the home sells, check the will for percentages, and ensure that the profit is split between siblings based on these proportions.

Inheriting A House With Siblings: Get Expert Advice

If you wind up inheriting a house with siblings, be sure to follow the steps listed above to ensure your family’s relationships, memories and assets will be well cared for as you move forward with the property.  With so many vacation and residential properties that are dear to families in the Lake Placid region, Adirondack Premier Properties has extensive experience working with families to support rental or sale of jointly owned homes.   We are here to help guide your family through this process.  Call our office to speak to an agent today!

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