Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Massachusetts

our mother died without a will and 4 out of the six siblings want t o sell her house. can they stop us from selling the house. we live in massachusetts.

Asked on 2/21/18, 7:26 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Alan Fanger Alan S. Fanger, Esq.

In the long run they cannot stop a sale of the house. If co-owners cannot agree on what to do with property, one or more of them may file something known as a petition for partition of the property. This can be filed in the Land Court or the Probate Court (though I much prefer the Land Court). The court would then appoint someone known as a "commissioner" to sell the property and divide the proceeds. In most instances a commissioner is not necessary once parties realize that it costs more than a simple private sale. More detailed information about this process can be found on my web site (

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Answered on 2/21/18, 7:53 am
Christopher Vaughn-Martel Charles River Law Partners, LLC

Thank you for your question.

I'm sorry for your loss. They can stop the voluntary sale of the property in the short run because you need all owners to sign off on a sale. A good real estate broker won't even list the place without the consent of all owners. However, you cannot be forced to own property with another person or persons forever. Any owner or group of owners has the right to file a petition to partition the property. In a partition, the petitioners ask a court to force the sale of the property and to fairly divide the proceeds among the owners. However, the filing of a partition typically gets all of the owners to the negotiating table, where it is almost always possible to agree on how the property will be valued, how a buyout is to occur, and other details.

I strongly advise that you use an attorney, since you are going to have issues relative to clearing title to real estate through the estate probate process and then litigating the sale of the property. You are more than welcome to reach out to my office.

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Answered on 2/23/18, 4:56 pm

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