Heir Property in Alabama

Heir property (also called “heirs’ property,” “tenancies in common,” land “held in heirs,” or “fractionated” land) is a common form of landownership among African Americans, particularly in the rural South.

While many co-owners enjoy the flexibility associated with heir property and the sense of community it fosters, holding land in a “clouded” title (see bold-faced words in the glossary) like this is dangerous and often leads to land loss. There are a few organizations working on land loss and heir property issues. It is important that people understand what heir property is, why it persists, how owners are vulnerable, and what can be done to address these problems. While heir property is not exclusive to the African American community (it is also common among Native Americans, though rules differ on tribal lands; and in parts of Appalachia), this population is clearly one of the most heavily affected by the disadvantages associated with heir property.

The main purpose of this site is to help visitors access information about heir property and the various organizations addressing land loss issues in Alabama and throughout the United States. Included in this site are links to these organizations, as well as to other sources of information that may be useful to researchers, community development coordinators, housing counselors, and landowners.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the author, not of Auburn University or the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. Auburn University and this site’s creator do not guarantee any of the services provided by the organizations mentioned herein. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of information posted on other sites for which links are provided. The purpose of this site is to provide basic information on heir property and is not a replacement for legal advice or assistance. If you need legal advice or assistance, you should contact an attorney after investigating his or her reputation and qualifications.