How Can You Legally Divide an Undivided Interest in Property?
Attorney Kari Lutringer answers this question about how to partition or legally divide an undivided interest in real property in Texas. The attorneys of Wadler, Perches, Hundl & Kerlick have decades of experience in real estate and property law. We serve clients through three offices in Southeast Texas — Wharton and El Campo in Wharton County and Fulshear and Richmond in Fort Bend County. Attorney Philip Hundl provides more detail about partitioning an undivided interest in this video blog post.
Question: I own 30 acres of a 90 acre undivided tract of land. My cousins own the other undivided 60 acres of land. How do I obtain clear title to my 30 acres?
If the 90 acre tract of land is owned by you and your two cousins, then you actually own a 1/3 interest in the whole 90 acre tract. As an undivided interest owner you have the right to use and enjoy the entire tract of land, subject to the other undivided interest owners’ right to the same use and enjoyment of the land. Often times undivided interest owners co-exist without conflict and share in the cost of maintenance and expenses of the land, as well as the profits generated and rentals received.
Alternatives to Divide an Undivided Interest in Property
Sell Your Interest or Purchase the Undivided Interests Owned by Others
If you no longer want to be an undivided interest owner, there are several alternatives. You can offer to sell your 1/3 interest in the land to your cousins or buy their 2/3 interest in the land. If that is not an option, real property owned by undivided interest owners may be partitioned by agreement or by judicial decree.
Agree on a Partition of the Land with the Other Owners
If the three of you can agree on which portions of the 90 acre tract you would each like to own, then the three of you can enter into an agreed partition. The land must be surveyed according to the agreement.
Turn to the District Court to Partition the Land
If no partition agreement can be reached, one of you will need to file a petition for partition in the district court of the county with the assistance of an attorney.
The court will appoint a panel of commissioners to review the land to be partitioned and determine the most fair and equitable manner of dividing the land. The division of the land will be based on value, not acres. Therefore, each of you will be awarded a tract of land equal in value, not necessarily in size, to the other owners.
The commissioners will issue a report to the court and the court will enter a partition order based upon the commissioner’s report and any other evidence presented by the parties. Finally, the court will provided a warranty deed to each party conveying and partitioning the land pursuant to the court order.
Kari D. Lutringer is an Of Counsel attorney at the law firm of Wadler, Perches, Hundl & Kerlick in Wharton, Texas. If you’d like an appointment to talk about how to divide an undivided interest in land, please call our office at 800-929-1725.