Extension hosts Heirs Property Workshop

Published 4:33 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2024

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The Lowndes County Extension office is hosting an Heirs Property Workshop May 13 to help stakeholders understand the issue of heirs property and learn what they can do about it.

Heirs property is common in Alabama. In fact, there is land in every county that is classified as heirs property, also known as family land. Whether families are attempting to develop or sell the land left by previous generations, the lack of a clear title makes it difficult for families to move forward.

Adam Rabinowitz, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System agricultural economics specialist, said heirs property is more prevalent in Alabama than individuals may think.

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“Heirs property is an issue that is created when someone dies without having a will or without the will being properly probated in the courts,” Rabinowitz said. “As a result, all of the heirs of the deceased become shared owners of the land. This can lead to a large number of family members having a fractional interest in the land.”

The Alabama Heirs Property Alliance is partnering with county Extension offices to help educate and empower individuals and families who have heirs property and are trying to figure out how to best address the issue.

A series of workshops are taking place across Alabama. Each workshop begins with a statewide Zoom session that is viewed locally at a county venue and is followed by an in-person activity. The activity is designed to help attendees better understand heirs property or begin to address their personal situation through hands-on experience. Johnson, who is also an Extension specialist and assistant professor in the Auburn College of Human Sciences department of Consumer and Design Sciences, said a common misconception is that when leaving property to others the easiest and most fair thing to do is to pass land down to all heirs jointly.

“Leaving physical property, whether that be land or a home, to all your children equally and collectively can cause a lot of unintended consequences,” Johnson said. “Leaving joint ownership creates rifts and disagreements within the family about how to manage or divide use of the property. It can also leave the property vulnerable and legally unprotected.”

Learn more about heirs property and how you can prevent it by visiting the Alabama Heirs Property Alliance web page at www.aces.edu

The Lowndes County workshop will be held at the Hayneville Senior Center, May 13 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. A light meal will be served, so registration is required. Register by calling (334) 548-2315 or online at www.auburn.qualtrics.com.