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Fighting Over the Homestead... What a Bummer

No matter how many times I see it, it still surprises me… children fighting over what to do with Mom and Dad’s homestead property. Unfortunately, no planning was ever done. Maybe Mom and Dad didn’t know what problems were lurking right around the corner.

Now, Mom and Dad have both passed away, and the property has to be probated (go through the court), but that’s just the beginning. The court will eventually enter an Order conveying ownership of the homestead to all three children as “tenants in common.” You might say: “Well, that’s not so bad, is it?” I beg to differ; it’s actually terrible. It creates a HUGE potential problem, because now, all three kids have to agree on what to do with the homestead property.

One wants to sell, one wants to keep it as an investment, and the third wants to live there because he has nowhere else to go. Now what happens? The property taxes still have to be paid but no one wants to (or can afford to) pay them. What’s to be done? But it gets even worse.

A few years later, one of the children also dies, and now her 1/3 portion of the homestead also has to probated - more waiting, more expense. And the only way to ultimately distribute each child's share is to start yet another court case, a partition action to force the sale of the homestead and the distribution of the proceeds. “Oh no… are you kidding me?”

All of this… all of it... could have been avoided with some fairly simple planning, either a Last Will and Testament, which would have allowed one of the children (the one the parents trusted) to sell the property and distribute the proceeds. Or even better yet, a Revocable Living Trust would have achieved the same thing but would also allow the family to avoid probate altogether. The property could have immediately been listed and sold, and the proceeds distributed... no fighting, no contention, no waiting. Why, oh why, don’t people do a little planning?

If you’d like to avoid this nightmare scenario for your children, please contact us at (813) 244-7758 or Remember, if competent, caring estate planning help is a must, then Ross Spano Law is the friend you can trust.


Ross Spano

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