If you’ve inherited land, you probably have questions about what you should do. Attorney Ray Kerlick answers some of those questions in this video. Call or text 800-929-1725 for an appointment with Mr. Kerlick.
Hi, I’m Ray Kerlick from the Law firm of Wadler, Perches, Hundl and Kerlick. And I’m here in our Fulshear office answering questions that people have about land ownership.
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Question: I inherited land, what do I do?
Well, it depends. The first thing that we are usually trying to do with inherited land is clear title to that land. So there are easy ways to do it and more difficult ways to do it that require a lot more effort on our part.
Was the Land Inherited through a Will?
The easy way is if the land is owned by someone who has a will. So the first question that we’ll want to know is whether you inherited the land through a will. If there is a will, the will typically specifies who gets the property and designates an executor to actually distribute that part to the people in question. There are other issues that relate to that and we’ll talk about those in a second.
Or Was the Land Inherited through an Heirship Proceeding
The second and more difficult way to handle that type of distribution is by way of an heirship proceeding. An heirship proceeding is a situation in which a probate court determines who the proper heirs of the deceased person are. It will also make a determination as to what percentage ownership each heir may have. And that’s typically based on where they are in terms of the family tree, how many layers down they are, and so on.
Once the court makes that determination as to who the owners are, then there will be a decision to make. What can I do?
Typically that’s going to require either an administrator to be put into place, or for the parties to work together in terms of common ownership of the land. Fortunately, when it comes to things like taxes and maintenance and insurance, the rules are relatively straightforward, everyone should contribute, and that includes on taxes and so on.
If you have reason to believe that the taxes are being paid only by one person or you’re that person, that’s why you would need to go back and get an heirship judgment so that you can actually have a percentage for which only you will be responsible for taxes and maintenance.
Why Might Your Land Be Partitioned?
Now, what happens if there are disagreements between the co-owners concerning the inherited land. This might be because they’re not getting along, or there’s not a consensus on what they want to do with the tract of land? There’s another type of suit that we can prepare, it’s called a partition suit.
A partition takes the percentage ownership, and it turns it into acreage. The court can then decide who owns what acreage or can actually order the property to be sold based on the percentage interest and acreage determinations, or it can order the property be divided into acreage based on this percentage heirship interest.
A partition suit can be an expensive and complicated process, and it definitely requires a lawyer. Fortunately in most situations we’re able to negotiate as agreement between the different heirs prior to actually going through with a full trial and judicial determination of that partition.
Rights of the Child of First Marriage when the Deceased Parent Has Remarried
Other issues that often come up have to do with second spouses. So if I am the child of the first marriage of the person who’s deceased, and that parent remarries, what happens with regard to property that my deceased parent owned? Again, typically that’s going to require an attorney’s involvement to help you determine what rights that second spouse may have.
In most situations that second spouse is going to have what’s called a homestead interest. So if your mother or father’s second spouse is living on a piece of property, as a general rule you’re not going to be able to kick that person out so long as they’re continuing to make that place their permanent residence. You may own the property, but they may continue to live there for the rest of their life or until certain other situations happen.
So this is again another situation where typically we get involved to help determine the nature of the homestead and the extent of the homestead. We can help identify the remedies as between the two parties in order to reach a resolution that can allow everybody to move forward with their lives.
These are all issues associated with inherited land that require legal expertise and the advice of counsel. So please reach out if you have further questions about any of these issues.
Get the Help You Need
If you’ve inherited land, you have questions that we can answer. Call or text 800-929-1725 for an appointment. You can also request an appointment by clicking the button.