Land is a priceless possession for most people because it’s a symbol of a family’s ancestry and legacy. While some land is not legally entitled to anybody in particular and only belongs to people as a result of adverse possession, the origin and ownership of land is an important matter for many people in higher classes. However, there’s issues attached with an informally acquired land, so it’s essential to get into the details and seek the help and expertise of a professional to shed light on heir property.
Definition of Heir Property
Heir property is an informal transferring of ownership of land from one person to another or from one generation to another generation. It’s informal in such a way that the landowner dies without leaving a last will. Generally, all of the heirs of the departed landowner have a say on the property or own the land “in common”. It means that whether individual lives on the land or not, pay the taxes or not, or haven’t ever set foot on the land, he or she automatically becomes one of the heirs or owners if proven to be an immediate or even a distant relative of the landowner.
History and Facts About Heir Property
In the short span of time, African-Americans obtained about 20 million acres of land in the USA toward the end of the Civil War and 1920. In a society that’s mostly hostile to African-American property ownership, these land acquisitions symbolized a heroic achievement, which made a substantial asset to the poor. It also represented their culture, tradition, history, economic, and political interactions. However, the vast majority of land got lost. Since 1910, 80% of land owned by the Blacks has been lost due to heir property. This fact is evident in the report of the Census Bureau.
Problems associated with heir property is severe for minor communities. Landowners in Georgia, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Pierce City, and Wilmington, North Carolina were stripped from their lands either by misuse of the law, trickery, or even violence. That’s why heir property is the leading cause of the Black involuntary land loss. The USDA has acknowledged this in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Heirs Property. Here are the possible reasons:
- Illegal use of force to drive black owners off their property
- Illegal acts by some lawyers
- Massive discrimination against black farmers
- No means to hire a lawyer
- Well-founded mistrust on the legal system
Common Problems Arising From an Heir Property
The state will be the one to decide who the individuals are who will inherit a land if the landowner dies without leaving a will. However, as the property passes from several generations, the potential heirs rise and can even reach hundreds. Inheritance recovery attorneys play a vital role in ensuring that the people who are heirs of the property get a fair portion of whatever final decision or outcome the state says. Hiring an inheritance recovery attorney can help in resolving the most common problems associated with heir property which include the following:
Disagreement about the use of the land
In heir properties, conflicts arise, most especially involving a more significant number of heirs. Some owners want to live or farm the land, while other owners want to sell it. Everything must be agreed upon by everyone who is entitled to the property.
Issues with the share of maintenance and taxes
While some are willing to pay the taxes and support, other owners aren’t willing to share the costs and maintenance associated with the management of the land.
Problems on grants, loans, and government assistance
Because the land has no clear title, there’ll be issues with the approval of loans, receiving of government assistance, and grants.
Myths About Heirs Property
- The safest form of land ownership is tenancy-in-common. The three types of land ownership are sole ownership, tenancy-in-common, and joint tenancy. In a sole ownership, a person or a company is the land’s sole owner. The land goes to the estate if a tenant-in-common dies in tenancy-in-common, and not to the other co-owners (2 to more). On the other hand, the land goes to the other owners if the owner dies in joint tenancy (2 or more owners). Thus, we can say, that the safest form of land ownership is sole ownership, or joint tenancy for more than 2 or more owners.
- The heir who pays the taxes and lives on the property has superior ownership than the rest. Everybody has an equal degree of ownership. I can also be hard to sort inheritance problems out if one owner received early inheritance giving at some point in their life.
- One heir can’t force the sale of the land without the permission of other owners. A property that’s tenancy-in-common can be sold without the permission of other owners unlike joint tenancy, which is a land ownership with full rights of survivorship.
Expert Advice From an Inheritance Recovery Lawyer
- Before deciding to face legal battles, try your best to work out any family disagreements.
- Meet once or twice a year to talk about the management of the land.
- Encourage all heirs to make a will and testament to avoid increasing the number of heir owners in the future.
- Identify your heir by making a family tree.
- Maintain a list of heirs (include their current addresses).
Heir property is a traditional form of land ownership, but there are many disadvantages as time passes by due to an increasing number of potential heirs. It’s a must to seek professional advice from an inheritance recovery attorney to help you know your rights and fight for your best interest in the heir property. If you do gain ownership of the property and would like to market it online for selling or other purposes to use as income, it’s good to check with agencies like Serp cofor the best results.