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Heir Property


Inheriting property can be a joyous occasion, but without proper estate planning, it may lead to unintended complications, especially when dealing with heir property interests. According to the US Department of Agriculture, heir property has been the leading cause of involuntary land loss in the Black community.

Heir property is property co-owned by multiple heirs of one ancestor. Absent the probate process, land records can’t reflect the next generation of owners resulting in a title record that shows the property being owned by a person who may have passed away decades earlier. When this process fails to happen through multiple generations the number of heirs with an interest in the property can be in the hundreds.

Since ownership of heir property is transferred through inheritance, when probate fails to happen, especially, over numerous generations, it can be difficult to prove ownership by the heirs resulting in a “cloudy” title. Without clear title the property cannot be sold and there is a great risk that an heir may seek a partition of the property. A partition is a legal proceeding where one interest holder in the property petitions to the court to force a sale of the property or divide the property among the owners.

Legal fees, court costs, and potential disputes of the use or sale of the property can lower the value of the inheritance, leaving heirs with less money than anticipated. Even if there is no apparent dispute over the property, some heirs may be unknown or difficult to locate, resulting in another challenge to be overcome to move forward. Until a cloudy title is resolved access to generational wealth is restricted.

Estate planning plays a pivotal role in safeguarding inheritance property and preventing heir property disputes. By establishing clear guidelines, designating beneficiaries, and minimizing probate-related expenses, individuals can secure the financial future of their heirs while providing peace of mind for themselves.

Cameron A Crump, Estate Planning Attorney

The McIntosh Law Firm, P.C.