When it comes to dealing with family-owned assets, it is always best to create a will in California. If you do not create a will, the state becomes responsible for naming heirs and deciding who gets what. However, there is an exception when it comes to real property. This is called heir property, and according to the USDA, this is when land passes down from generation to generation without any formal documentation.
Your family may have their property if you and other relatives own a piece of land together. Ownership is regardless of use or taking any responsibility for the land. It can become complex, especially if one heir wishes to live on, use or sell the land. Everyone who is an owner must agree to any decisions regarding the land. This is true even if they have never seen the land or been involved with it.
Heir property situations become difficult easily. Many times, one heir wishes to sell while others do not. It is possible, though, to force an heir to sell if the majority wish to do so. In addition, if you want to use the land and try to get funding or assistance, it is not likely to be approved due to the heir ownership of the property.
The best way to handle such property is for one heir or heirs who wish to work together gain full ownership and then create a formal document about passing the property to the next generation. This information is for education and is not legal advice.