When more than one individual owns an interest in real estate and the joint owners are unable to agree on the management or sale of the property, partition actions may be the most effective way to resolve these issues. If you are struggling with a property dispute, having an experienced attorney to advocate for your interests can help you save time and money in court. The dedicated attorneys at Loughlin Law, P.A. are dedicated to serving neighbors and communities in Florida. Estate partitions can be stressful, but working with a dedicated estate planning and asset management attorney can make the process more manageable. To learn more about how an experienced attorney can assist with estate partitions and other asset management issues, schedule a free personalized consultation by calling (561) 677-8384 today.
What Is a Partition Action?
In situations where unmarried co-owners of a property cannot agree on the sale or control of a property, the court can be involved to determine how the property will be divided. A partition action is legal proceeding in which a court will determine how to partition or sell a property with two or more owners. The rules and regulations governing estate partition actions can be found in Chapter 64 of the Florida Statutes.
What Are the Steps in a Partition Action?
Since partition actions are formal legal proceedings, specific steps must be followed to initiate and oversee these lawsuits. According to 64.022 of the Florida Statutes, to begin a partition action in Florida, a partition complaint must be filed in the county where the property is located.
Filing Partition Actions
On the partition complaint, the names of all co-owners must be included, as well as a description of the property and details regarding each co-owner’s interest in the property. The partition complaint will typically include claims for damages, such as taxes, payments on the mortgage, and other expenses related to the maintenance and upkeep of the real estate.
Response to Partition Complaint
After the partition complaint is filed, the co-owners will be served as defendants. If defendants fail to respond to the complaint, the judge can issue an order identifying all the co-owners/co-tenants and their respective interests, then partition the property. If defendants respond but fail to provide enough information to allow the judge to enter an order for partition of the estate, the court is permitted to schedule a hearing to review disputed issues and form a sufficient basis to enter an order of partition.
Adjudication of Estate Partitions
Once the judge has determined that the estate can be partitioned, a preliminary conference will be held among the judge, the co-owners, and the attorneys of any co-owners who have retained professional legal representation. At this conference, co-owners of the property can set forth their positions and try to identify a solution in court regarding how the property will be partitioned. If the parties cannot reach an agreement on this issue, the judge will oversee the matter unilaterally or a partition master will be appointed to handle the case.
The Three Most Common Estate Partition Options
There are three main options that are used in estate partitions. In these cases, the court may:
- Choose to divide the property amongst all of the co-owners, allowing each party to receive their fair share. Referred to as a “partition in kind,” this option is often not feasible since dividing a property into equally proportioned shares is complicated and difficult.
- Consider selling the property interests from one co-owner to another. Called a “partition by allotment,” this option is preferable if one party wishes to retain their ownership of the real estate.
- Determine that a property sale is the ideal course of action. Known as a “partition by sale,” this option allows co-owners to sell the property and receive proceeds based on their respective ownership interests.
Ultimately, the option used by the courts will depend largely on the unique circumstances of the case and the long-term goals of each co-owner. Seeking assistance from an experienced estate partitions attorney at Loughlin Law, P.A. to review your situation and devise a solution that helps you meet your needs and expectations.
What Is an Example of a Partition Action?
There are a range of scenarios in which disputes can arise when it comes to the control of a property. Typically, partition actions involve unmarried couples, siblings who inherit real estate, or co-owners who purchase an investment property together.
How Do I Partition an Inherited Property?
In some cases, individuals who have received a portion of a property as part of their inheritance or bequest from a loved one’s Last Will and Testament may wish to partition the property. If two children of the same parents have an equitable interest in the inherited property, they may do anything they want with the estate, assuming they are able to agree on the outcome. They may choose to sell the home and equitably split the proceeds. Alternatively, they are free to rent the home and share the income generated from the property. Regardless of the decision, as long as they agree and the decision is within the parameters of the law, they can move forward cooperatively.
Disagreements in Use of Inherited Property
Not uncommonly, however, siblings disagree about what to do with an inherited property. Maybe one sibling wishes to sell the home to pay down debt, while the other sibling wants to retain ownership of the property for sentimental reasons. The children have conflicting goals and cannot proceed as they wish due to the other’s equitable interest in the property. This results in a sort of stand-off, where an agreement cannot be reached, and each heir has the legal right to prevent the other from moving forward with their preferred option.
Initiating Partition Actions on Inherited Property
In this case, it may be necessary to partition the inherited property. In this example, the sibling who would rather sell the home may legally petition the court for an estate partition action, or they may seek the help of a Florida partition actions attorney. The petitioning sibling, with their attorney if they have decided to work with professional representation, will bring the case to court, where a judge will determine what to do with the home. If the judge decides to sell the home, a “partition by sale” may be conducted. In this situation, the property will be sold, and the proceeds will be evenly distributed between each sibling.
Contact an Experienced Estate Partitions Attorney Today
Property disputes can be time-consuming and difficult to solve, but through a tailored and strategic approach it is possible to avoid the high costs and risks involved in partition actions in Florida. An experienced estate attorney with Loughlin Law, P.A. can work alongside you to map out a strategy that optimizes your outcome. For more information regarding your options and rights involving real estate in Florida, consider scheduling your free personalized consultation by calling (561) 677-8384 today.