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My brother and I both inherited my parents’ farm. He lives near and farms the land. They gave us both their old house. I live 3 hours away so the house was vacant for about a year and a half. My brothers son got married and decided to move into the old house. My brother fixed it up for him and charges him $350 per month in rent. Taxes came due and I was forced to pay my 1/2 which is over $1000. There is no way I can recoup this money, so I told him I wanted out. Initially he said the house was only worth $5000 so he wanted me to take $25,000 and get brought out. The more I thought about it, the more I didn’t think it was a fair amount because there are 2 big sheds a garage and probably some acreage. I told him we should get it appraised. He said if we did we have to subtract $5000 for what it costs for him to fix it up. Now, I didn’t tell him to fix it up and I’m not trying to cause trouble but want fairness. What do you think I should do or do I have anything I should do?

Asked on January 10, 2017 under Estate Planning, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Legally, there is a mechanism for forcing a sale if you and your brother cannot agree as to what to do with the property (which legal action could be settled by an agreement under which one of you--e.g. your brother--buys out the other--e.g. you--for a mutually agreed-upon price). That is something called an action "for partition." But that is the only legal option you have: to file a lawsuit to force a sale. That can be an expensive option, since it's not a straightforward legal action, like filing a small claims case (that is, you really do need an attorney), and can also lead to a great deal of animosity between you and your family. 
So the real issue is, do you think that the cost of a lawyer and lawsuit, and the family conflict, is worth the extra amount you hope to realize from the property? If you're thinking he undervalued it by $50,000 or more, it probably is; if you think he undervalued it by maybe $10,000, it's not. Going the legal route is a major undertaking--have a good sense that it's worthwhile before you commit to it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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