You and your sibling inherited the family home together — but you’re not sure exactly what you should (or can) do with it now. You aren’t even sure if you and your sibling can agree on what to do with the home since you tend to have very different goals for the future.

Here’s how to start sorting out your options with a jointly owned house:

  1. Determine your ownership rights. You may have inherited as joint tenants with the right of survivorship or tenants-in-common. The latter gives you the ability to sell or give away your ownership interest at will. The former makes you and your sibling equal owners who have to agree to any sale jointly.
  2. Determine who has an interest in keeping the home — and the ability to do so. Ownership comes with a lot of financial obligations, including property taxes and maintenance. That may not fit with your plans — or your sibling’s.
  3. Decide if either of you want to sell your interest to the other. That’s often the easiest thing to do when siblings inherit a home. One of you may be able to afford to buy out the other’s share at market value and assume full ownership.
  4. Rent or sell (if neither of you wants to live in it). If neither of you really wants to live in the home, you may consider renting or selling it. Naturally, your relationship with your sibling, among other things, may influence your choice.

What happens if you can’t agree to anything? Some sibling relationships are, unfortunately, contentious. In those situations, you may have to ask the court to intercede so that you can end your co-ownership.

Negotiating agreements around a complicated estate issue like a jointly inherited home can be difficult to manage on your own. Get experienced help.