What is “Heirs Property?”
“Blight starts with a homeowner who doesn’t have an estate plan. The house then becomes ‘Heirs Property’ and you can’t borrow money on it or receive housing assistance because there is no clear title. We are so glad that Middle Georgia Justice is helping us be proactive in fighting blight, by helping people clear up titles and attacking blight at its source.” — Mayor Lester Miller
Heirs Property generally means property that has been passed down to family members by word of mouth only, and by simply occupying the house. Many properties in our community’s neighborhoods have been in the family for years. But often the original owner (grandmother, great-father, etc.) did not have a will. Instead, the owner may tell the family who should have the property when they are gone, and then when the owner passes, that person lives in the house. This is all done unofficially and informally, without making any changes to the deed.
Why is Heirs Property A Problem?
The lack of clear title to the home interferes with the transfer of wealth from generation to generation which is so important to families in our community. In some cases, there is no problem for years, as the family member of a deceased relative continues to live in the family home, pay the taxes, etc. But problems will develop. First, you cannot borrow against the house in order to make improvements or necessary repairs and maintenance. Second, you cannot get homeowner’s insurance on a house if you are not the record owner on the title/deed. Or if there is already insurance on the home, and something happens, you cannot make a homeowner’s claim and collect on the claim if you are not the owner on the title/deed. Third, there are many organizations in this area, such as Macon Area Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Macon, that offer assistance to homeowners and will help fix their homes. But they can only help you if you are the record owner on the title/deed. Without clear title you cannot sell your home, or borrow money on your home.
How Does The Issue Of Heirs Property Lead To Blight?
If a problem happens, and a homeowner cannot get assistance or make an insurance claim because they are not the record owner on the title/deed, then the problem often is not fixed. This then causes the house to deteriorate, and eventually, the home is abandoned and becomes blighted.
How Do I Know If I Am The Owner On The Title/Deed?
You can check with the Tax Assessor/Commissioner for your County to see if you are the owner on the deed. If you can’t figure it out, give us a call – we can help!
How Can Middle Georgia Justice Help?
If you qualify for our services, we can help you clear up title to your home so that you can enjoy all of the benefits that come with home ownership. Often, this requires filing a case in Probate Court to get the property in the hands of the heirs, officially. But depending on your situation, there may be other ways we can help that are simpler.
We are proud to be partnering with Macon Area Habitat for Humanity in identifying and clearing up deeds to properties in our community!
What Should I Do?
If you are living in a home that belonged to a relative, and if you are not the record owner on the title/deed, call Middle Georgia Justice. We will ask you some questions and have you fill out a couple of forms to see if you qualify for our help, and to see how best we can help you. If you don’t qualify, we can help you find an attorney that can assist you.