“Heir Property” is real property that has passed down to descendants, or heirs, without the benefit of a will or probate. Over successive generations, the ownership of such property may become increasingly divided due to the large number of heirs who are entitled to an interest in the land. Often these ownership interests in the property remain undocumented in public records.
As a result, Heir Property could be owned by dozens of people who are unknown to each other while only one may actually live on the property itself. This ownership situation is referred to as Tenancy in Common. It creates a unique problem for land retention, because each tenant in common is free to sell or gift his or her interest in the land to whomever the tenant in common may choose, without notifying other co-owners and without the consent of the other co-owners.
On the other hand, the occupier of Heir Property lacks clear title to the land and cannot, without the consent of all other co-owners, sell the land, use the land as collateral to obtain loans, use the timber or agricultural resources of the land, or obtain governmental assistance or grants that require proof of land ownership.