Improving The Uniform Partition Of Heirs Property Act
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Many times family land is owned among many related individuals a condition known as “heirs property.” This can be a problem when someone wants to sell their portion of the property. This person can legally force a sale of the property which often times results in the other owners being forced off family land and not receiving fair value for the property. This article probes this issue and looks at the recently promulgated, Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act. This act encourages a new way of partitioning the land in partition actions, and also preserves land value if partition sales do happen. This paper proposes three additional reforms that will make the act more robust in addressing the ills of partition: a change to how plaintiffs’ legal fees are paid by allowing those that object to the sale to avoid having the value of their land reduced, an improved notice provision to require more diligence in finding missing owners, and a mandatory mediation provision to address the root cause of some partition actions. In addition to these actions the author also suggests that helping to educated landowners, particularly those of low and middle income or likely to pass without a will, so that they understand and take actions to prevent heirs property by securing forms of ownership such as trusts, LLCs, and tenancy in common agreements.
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