Inheriting a Co-op or Condo: What’s Involved? There Are Issues When It Comes to Transferring Property

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Picture this: at some point, your parents would like to move out of the co-op or condo apartment in the city that they’ve owned for decades and now want to live out their remaining years at their Columbia County single-family home in upstate New York. They want to give the apartment to you as their heir. The question is can you inherit that unit from your folks in the same way you could for the upstate home?  The answer is yes, but it’s complicated. Then again, anything involving real estate in New York City usually is.

Is It Real Estate?

Like all privately-owned, fee-simple real estate, the house in Columbia County is in fact real estate.  It can be easily passed from parent to child, or to anyone else for that matter. What’s required is a will that clearly states who inherits the ownership of the property.  A condominium unit is not far from that, since they are real estate, too.  

If owned jointly with a spouse, real estate can pass directly upon the death of one joint owner to another.  In the case of a condominium passing from parent(s) to a child(ren), the transfer of ownership, particularly in the case where there is a will, is also a relatively easy and painless process.

The one unique question in a condominium is whether the condominium association’s usual “right of first refusal” is enforceable in cases of inheritance rights.  The “right of first refusal” is the condominium association’s legal recourse in cases where the board--as the elected representative of the association membership--is unhappy about a potential unit sale.  In the event a board exercises its “right of first refusal,” they can offer to purchase the unit at a comparable price, rather than accept the unit owner’s purchaser.

“Inheritance of a condominium unit is like a private home, and not subject to the right of first refusal,” says Phyllis Weisberg, a co-op and condo attorney with Montgomery McCracken Walker Rhoads, which has offices in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.

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3 Comments

  • When it comes to inheriting a coop from parent..if financially fit a coop board should not have the right to refuse you. If parent left will and it clearly states an adult child should have coop .Also coops should allow a guarantor for apartment as many adult children took time off from their careers to be a caregiver for the parent. One sibling was a caregiver and the other one has the financial means to easily be a gurantor and willing to do it.
  • My senior mother lives in NYC and inherited a coop apt. The apartment is paid and my aunt was paying for the maintenance only. The management office told my mom to get a lawyer so their attorneys will get in contact. I would like to know why my mother needs a lawyer. Should she need to pass the coop board approval also? Please advise. Thank you
  • My Wife was married prior to me and her husband died. He had shares. In 2 co ops he left the shares for one of the two to his sons from a previous marriage and the other to his spouse. The Will was a mess and the Attorney’s for both my wife and the sins from first marriage would not disburse the multimillion dollar estate because of contradictions in the will. The heirs agreed to a global settlement where my wife gave up Other real estate for the second co op unit shsres. Because she was not a citizen of us at the time of death she set up a QDOT trust and her inheritance passed to the trust. The co op’s prop lease expressly says that a spouse can inherit shsres without consideration. Therefor no board approval. The co op maintained that the trust was not a spouse and therefore she had to go before the board. The co op went onto sue her to compel her to go before the board. The court ruled for my wife but has not yet awarded legal fees. That matter is under appeal. My question is my wife entitled to damages in excess of legal fees as the court ruled that she did not need board approval to inherit the shares.