What is heir’s property?
This is a type of land owned by all successors, irrespective of whether they pay taxes, live on the land or have never seen the land. Heirs’ property is also referred to as tenants in common because it refers to land owned “in common” by all the inheritors.
Who is considered an heir and who is not?
An heir is a blood relation to the person named on the deed of the heirs’ property and or someone related to the individual by birth or law such as:
• A legally married spouse
• A common law spouse
• A spouse who is not legally divorced but separated
• Children from birth
• Children from legal adoption
• Children from a separated but not divorced partner
• Outside children
Children who are simply “raised” and not legally adopted and legally divorced spouses are not considered as heirs.
Why is heirs’ property an uncertain way of land ownership?
An heirs’ property is precarious because one may easily lose the land. Any heir may sell his or her portion of the land to another, who may try and force a sale of the entire land in the court.
Does an oral will guarantee heirs’ property ownership?
No. Oral wills do not carry legal validity, as do written wills. The written will must be drafted professionally by an experienced and specialized attorney. This document must be presented in writing and witnessed in order for it to be deemed as a legal document. It must be clearly stated in the document whowill inherit the land after your demise.
Frequently Asked Questions about Heirs’ Property
1. Is heirs’ property the chief way to maintain and own family land?
No. Owning a piece of land as heirs “in common” is unsound and can put the ancestral property at major risk for loss by the entire family. Anyone who purchases or inherits a portion of the property has the legal right to seek a forced sale for complete land ownership in court.
2. Does actually living on the property give an heir greater or more rights to land usage and ownership than heirs who are absent?
No. Any heir who does not live on the property or who doesn’t help in its maintenance is still entitled to the same rights as heirs who are living on the land and participating in its upkeep.
3. Does paying property taxes and other assessments entitle that person to full land ownership?
No. Paying taxes does not increase a person’s percentage of rights on the property. Any heir that does not make tax payments on the property will not lose rights to land ownership.
4. Are all living offspring entitled to the same equal share in the heirs’ property?
No. A successor’s share will depend on the number of successors in generations preceding him or her.
5. Does conducting a land survey provide proof of ownership?
No. Conducting a land survey does not grant ownership of land to any heirs involved. Owning any real property may be transferred via a duly recorded deed.
Owning heirs’ property is risky and full of legal ramifications. It is best to seek legal counsel from an attorney who specializes in heir’s property ownership. This is the only way to ensure that your ancestral property remains in your hands!