What Is Mississippi Heir Property? Heir property is a legal term used to refer to the informal transferring of land ownership. It usually occurs from one generation to another when a landowner dies without leaving a will. The descendants who receive the land are the heirs of the Mississippi landowner that died.
Commonly, heirs own the land “in common”. This means there is no set part of the Mississippi land set to a single owner. Thus, if an heir can demonstrate relation to the original Mississippi landowner, she or he is one of the landowners or an owner of the heir property. In some cases, owners of their property have no idea they are part owners in Mississippi land.
The History Behind African American Heir Property
As one of the consequences of African Americans’ emancipation, between the Civil War end and 1920, received around 20 million acres of land in the U.S.
This achievement could mean a significant benefit to those low-income families. However, in a very hostile society for African-Americans, the immense majority of them lost their lands. Heir property was the gap through which this enormous loss occurred.
Many black landowners lost their Mississippi lands due to reasons such as:
- Violence against black families driving them off their properties
- Ignorance of the law and lack of means for hiring a lawyer
- Legal trickery by dishonest lawyers
- Discrimination against black farmers
- Forced sales to speculators
The Problem with Heir Property in Mississippi
If land passes down through generations without a will, shared ownership is created among many descendants. So, when land ownership is not clear, owners cannot obtain economical benefits from it. In simple terms, you can’t sell Mississippi heir property. Why? You don’t know who owns what interest in each acre of land.
Each family member will have different ownership rights when a tract of Mississippi land has been determined to be heir property. The wife of the main landowner will have more ownership of the land than a child will have.
Therefore, vulnerable landowners have lost their family property. Black families lost hundreds of millions of dollars in land value during the last century.
Heir property can happen to black or white landowners, the cause is simple, ownership of the Mississippi land and at the death of the owner there is no will.
David Dietrich from the American Bar Association’s Property Preservation Task Force called heir property “the worst problem you never heard of.”
This is a real problem not only in Mississippi but many other states in the U.S.
How To Prevent Your Mississippi from Becoming Heir Property?
- The first and easiest way is to have a will before your death. A will is not expensive, and any attorney can prepare one.
- Make sure that your tax payments are up to date. This does not cause heir property but can cloud the title.
- Prove your ownership. Did you inherit property without a will? So, you can file an affidavit of heirship in Mississippi as well as many other states.
- If one of your parents dies, lead the effort to get all heirs to decide to sell the land or at least get the paperwork done to do what is called clear the title. You can always decide what to do with the land later.
- Ask a lawyer about how to create a family LLC or land trust.
Heir property is a common form of ownership at the time of death of the current Mississippi landowner. However, it brings many disadvantages as the land passes from a generation to another through an informal way. Have in mind that the number of heirs can multiplies exponentially with the pass of time. Hence, it gives spaces for involuntary losses of land.
For most people, land represents not only an important possession but also a family’s inheritance. Therefore, it is critical to get professional legal advice to bring clarity to these cases.
The only way to sell your Mississippi land is with a clear title, and for this, you must have all heirs in agreement. This can be a very touchy situation so go into your efforts with negotiation already on your mind.