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What do you do when siblings inherit a parent's home?

When your last surviving parent died, you probably assumed that his or her home would be sold and the equity divided among you and your siblings.

But, what happens when that isn't the case? What if the will left the home to you and your siblings in equal shares? You may suddenly be unclear what to do about the property.

Well, you do have options.

Residential property that's inherited among siblings can be handled four different ways:

1. You can sell it

If none of you are emotionally attached to the place, you and your siblings can put it up for sale and proceed with your plans to divide the equity.

If one of you is attached to the property, that sibling can possibly buy out the others' shares at market value and become the sole owner. (Make sure an independent appraisal is done to keep things fair.)

2. You can rent it out

If you and your siblings are so inclined, turn the property into a rental. This may be particularly advantageous if one of you is willing to manage the property, and you're hoping the home will increase in value so that it can be sold at a later date.

Just make sure you understand the tax implications if you go that route.

3. Someone can move into it

One sibling could move into the property and take over the taxes and any remaining mortgage. How this is accomplished would have to be worked out by agreement. For example, the sibling could be given the right to a lifetime tenancy -- or restricted to a limited term via agreement.

4. You can share it

Maybe just you and one other sibling inherited the home and you've always been close. If you don't have spouses and kids, you may decide to move back in and share living space to cut down on your housing expenses.

Regardless of what you choose to do, make sure that you get the advice of an experienced residential real estate attorney. Legal guidance at the start can avoid unfortunate misunderstandings down the line.

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