What happens when one heir is bequeathed the title of a house and another heir an equity stake?

Q: My grandmother recently passed away. My grandfather passed away a few years ago and my mother, also the executor of her will, is her only child and has always lived with my grandmother in her house. In her final will my grandmother left my mother the title to the house with a 40% equity stake bequeathed to me. If my mother has zero intention of selling the house (which is paid in full), does she have to “buy me out” of the 40%? How exactly does this play out? I know that my mother inherited more than enough to cover my portion from my grandmother’s retirement accounts but she is so absolutely outraged that she wasn’t left the house 100% that she won’t include me or inform me of anything that’s going on with the estate/probate process. The estate lawyer never returns my phone calls either. I can only seem to find information when inherited houses are split equally among heirs. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A:  As mentioned, you need your own lawyer to look at the deed and the will. If the estate lawyer will not give you a copy, you can get a copy of the deed in Department of Real Estate in the County Office Building and a copy of the will, assuming it has been filed, in the Register of Wills which is in the City-County Building. Both are in downtown Pittsburgh. Based on what your limited information, it sounds like there will be a deed coming from the estate to your mom and you, 60% to her, 40% to you. I will assume the new deed will list both of you as tenants in common. Yes, unless the will directs otherwise, for example, a life estate to your mother, then you have a divisible interest in the house and can therefore try to force her to buy you out. If she will not agree to a buy out, you can file a partition action which is expensive and time consuming and should be a last resort. I think you need a lawyer as there may be other options. For example, she can grant a deed to you reserving for herself a life estate. This would allow her to live in the house until she is no longer able to or dies, then full title would pass to you. More information is needed to fully advise, but you should seek a legal opinion.

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