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Partitions of real estate are legal proceedings that force the sale of property held by several owners and equitably divide the proceeds of the sale among these owners. Generally, it is a last resort when one owner or more wants to sell, while other owners do not. If you are hoping to partition your property, it is crucial to retain an experienced real estate attorney to protect your interests. The Boston partition lawyers at Pulgini & Norton have years of experience handling all types of property transactions.

Partitions in Massachusetts

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 241 governs partition actions in the state. Under Section 1 of this law, anyone except a tenant by the entirety that currently owns an undivided legal estate in land that is not subject to redemption is entitled to bring a suit for partition. Partition can occur through physical division, public auction, set-off, or private sale.

When the estate is held in fee simple, the partition is also in fee. Fee simple is the highest form of ownership you can have in a piece of real estate. Similarly, if the property is held as a life estate or for a certain term, an owner is entitled to partition for only as long as the period of the estate. Life tenants or those whose tenancy is a term of at least 20 years can have partition at the court's discretion. A leaseholder cannot stop the partition, but the partition is not supposed to disturb a leaseholder's possession when the lease covers the interests of all the co-tenants.

You can initiate a partition by filing a petition in Land Court or Probate and Family Court. The petition must be served on anyone that has an interest in the land, including other owners and the lender for the mortgage. Additionally, a legal notice will need to be published in the local newspaper, and the notice of partition will need to be filed with the Registry of Deeds.

The court will determine whether a physical division is practicable. Generally, it is not possible to physically divide a single-family residence. However, if the land is not developed, or there is more than one unit, it may be possible to physically divide the property. The court can also order a sale or a buy-out by one owner of the other owners' interests. The court's goal is to get the highest possible return for all the owners, given the property's fair market value.

Once the partition occurs, the proceeds need to be divided according to the owners' interest in the property. For example, if one owner owned 60% of the property, while the other owned 40%, the presumption is that the first owner gets 60% of the proceeds, while the other gets 40% of the proceeds. However, in some cases, the court will consider other factors, such as whether one owner contributed more than his or her ownership share toward the expenses of maintaining the property.

Explore Your Options with a Partition Lawyer in Boston

Generally, it is best for all involved if owners of real estate can reach an agreement about selling the property and dividing the proceeds outside judicial proceedings. However, when a partition is the only possible solution, you should consult a property transactions lawyer. The Boston partition attorneys at Pulgini & Norton advise and represent people in Weymouth, Medford, Malden, and other cities in Massachusetts. Call us at 781-843-2200 or contact us via our online form for a free consultation.