Mom would like to sell her house in Alabama. Property on heir land. Mom resides in New Jersey. How to go about process? - AgingCare.com

Mom would like to sell her house in Alabama. Property on heir land. Mom resides in New Jersey. How to go about process?

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My father built a home for his mother. My grandmother reside in the house until her death.My mother has been paying the taxes on the house for over 10 years. Since she was told by another attorney years ago that selling the house would be difficult because it sits on heir property. a nephew has expressed interest for years in purchasing the property. Since he lives in the area and is family, we would love to sell to him. As her daughter , I would love to put property on the market, but she feels she may have a very hard time because on heir land. my mother is getting on in age, and expresses no interest in keeping this beautiful house, and financial keeping up with the taxes is financially draining. I want to handle this in the best possible way for her and she not end up more frustrated in the system. Help with advice!

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Jessie-
This sort of thing has also happened on Indian reservations. My grandma, a Norwegian, was the school teacher on a reservation. She owned a house that she lived in for many years. Congress passed a law that required a title search, and all previous native American heirs of the property had to be contacted to relinquish their rights to the property. It was a relatively small estate when she passed, but because of this law, it took 8-10 years to settle it.
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My only nightmare thought for heir property in Alabama is that someone died in the late 1800s without a will. If this person had 10 kids who each had 10 kids and so on down the line, it would be terrible to sort through who all the heirs might be. This is especially so because family lineages can be almost impossible to trace, since records are so spotty.
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Google AVVO. You can enter the location and post a question that attorneys will answer at no charge. The site also has ratings of attorneys.

I had never heard of an heir property either, thought it was a typo for "her". Very interesting.
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This is going to be such a cluster to deal with. Whatever route you take, this is going to take time. I'd say 6 mo if the stars align but realistically a year plus...

As others have said you need to find a good attorney, real estate or a good estate attorney. I'd go with an estate lawyer rather than real estate and one with an office in the county in which the land is. I'm assuming this is a real house (not manufactured housing) & is in your mom's name so she (you) can get a appraisal on it & that it is worth enough to be worthwhile doing all this.

If so, there are some things you can do now & should:
-- a summary of all the taxes & other expenses she has paid since gran's death
-- a listing of relatives & some idea of date of death, marriages and kids
--all filed documents on the land from the tax assessors or chancery clerk's office. If this is several parcels or PPIN's, then everything on all of them. Most counties have land records on-line and for a very low cost for maybe the past 10 - 20 years.If mom has been paying taxes, you want to find her last tax statement. Most places mail this out in Oct or Nov for taxes due in January of the next year. This is an important paper as it will have the parcel number, PPIN and other details on the description of the land & house. The parcel # is in most counties the key to finding anything on the land. Names just have too much variation. Once you find the parcel number, there should be list of all documents relating to it via on-line records. Buy all of those. If a lot of this goes back decades, you probably can't get it all on-line. They will have to do a manual search and that takes a while.
-- a PLAT that shows the property and adjacent property. These too are often on-line. Sometimes these are super-old and have to be printed special and cost more. If this is really older stuff, often on the plat will be indicated variances or other legal done and not traditionally recorded. Plat mucho importante.

All of these items are needed so that the description on the property is totally accurate so that you can sell it with clean title and be able to claim reimbursement on taxes in case there is an issue on this……more below on this sticky.

It sounds like you want to sell the property as an open listing with a Realtor rather than just sell to a family member. Just how easily this can be done will depend on how many heirs are possible, what successions were done and bad family dynamics that cloud getting a clean title. Talk with your mom about all this. Is the interested nephew willing to pay fair market value? or does he expect it to basically be given to him for pennies on the $? What you could do is tell him that you are going to put it on the market and give him the option of first right of refusal or right of first offer. It's a nice gesture and makes him aware you know the value.

The advantage with nephew is that you could do a quit claim deed like JessieBelle said. Personally I hate QCD as there is no guarantee to ownership, but that would be nephews problem not yours. Now if you go with open market Realtor listing, you probably are going to have to be able to sell the property via a warranty deed. If the buyer needs to get a mortgage nowadays the banks or mortgage companies require that the property be sold via warranty deed and with full title insurance. Heir property is a total sticky in getting that done as you are going to have to get sign off's on ownership from possible other heirs and releases of any liens the heirs may have against them. What the attorney might suggest is that all heirs do a QCD to your mom on the land that the house is on (realize some of those may expect to be paid to QCD their share) and then after the QCD's are done the attorney will run a "quiet title" action on the property. Then once quiet runs it's course (maybe 3 - 6 months for legal notices), you can get a clean clear title to be able to sell it with title insurance.

You know "heir" property was a big issue for rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. Lots of homes - especially on the MS coast and the lower Louisiana parishes (counties) were heir properties. They were built to be camps or weekend homes and then over time became primary homes by grandkids. Never went through probate or successions, just stayed in original owners names and one or 2 from the family paid taxes and upkeep. Then after Katrina when they went to apply for grants, loans, etc, they couldn't get anything as there was no clear ownership and family wanted to be paid off to do so or refused to sign off. Worse were those who had worthless sibling who had judgements and liens against him and therefore the property, that could not be worked out. So think about if there could be bad family dynamics that could be a problem in selling the house. Good luck.
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Dave Beuoy, Attorney in North Alabama...specializing in Real Estate and a Title Agent...
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Please consult a real estate attorney who knows all about these matters.
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A Real Estate lawyer in AL should handle this case with the help of a Title Insurance representative.
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I love this site. You learn something new every day. Yes, get an Alabama lawyer to handle this, and pay her from the proceeds of the sale.
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BTW, I would not try to handle this personally. I would hire a lawyer who knows how to figure out who the joint owners might be and send out the needed paperwork to be completed by each.
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That is a difficult problem indeed. signmeister, heir land is land that has passed down through a family, often for generations, with no written record of what portion each heir owns. It is owned as a family (or other group) unit. Heir property is common in much of the South, though it is becoming less so in recent times. My main question here is how many heirs might be involved in owning the land at the present time. I know this depends greatly on how many generations have passed since the land was first purchased. If it is a reasonable number of heirs, it seems the best way to go would be for all living heirs to do a quitclaim or whatever might be equivalent for an heir property. Since your mother has been paying the taxes, and probably others would not be interested in paying part of the taxes to keep the state from seizing the land, people may be eager to relinquish their possible claim as heirs. Once consolidated in a written deed, your nephew sounds like a good buyer.

Things are very difficult to handle often in rural Alabama. We went through something a few years ago where the deed to property had never been filed by the lawyer. What a mess it was! It took a while to sort out, but all is well now thanks to people holding onto paperwork.
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