Preserving Family Real Estate, Generational Wealth, and Heritage: A Virtual National Institute on Heirs' Property

  • Continuing Legal Education Program (CLE)
  • Wills/Estates
  • Housing

Explore the fundamentals of heirs property and the efforts to prevent and deter the loss of land and home across generations, with a special focus on the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act, which has been adopted in 18 jurisdictions and introduced in at least 8 more.

Why you should attend?

If you are committed to economic justice or practice real property, trusts and estates law, you need to attend this program and develop the understanding and necessary skills to recognize and help family members retain their interest in family real property across generations. There will be a special focus on the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act, adopted in 18 jurisdictions so far and introduced in at least 8 more. What is Heirs Property?

Why is the UPHPA important?

The Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (UPHPA) is a uniform state law addressing a widespread, well-documented problem faced by many low- to middle-income families across the country. Many of these families, particularly people of color or the Appalachian poor, own small shares of a farm or an urban house as tenants-in-common because generations ago, their families were unable to have a will written, so ownership has passed down through multiple generations in ever smaller intestate shares. They are vulnerable to predatory investors where a single investor can purchase a small interest and petition a court for a partition sale. Most heirs are surprised to learn that a court can compel the sale of land they do not wish to sell. The highly unstable ownership these families experience stands in sharp contrast to the secure property rights wealthier families typically enjoy. Heirs property owners have been dispossessed of their real property and much of their real property-related wealth as a result of court-ordered partition sales of tenancy-in-common properties. These families have also lost their dwellings, their family history, and in many cases their livelihood.

The UPHPA is not a silver bullet, but it helps protect heirs through a series of due-process reforms: independent appraisal, a right for heirs to buyout the cotenant requesting sale, a strengthened preference for physical division of the land when feasible, and if a sale is ultimately ordered, an open-market listing to ensure the highest possible return. The UPHPA may also help a surprising number of wealthier families who own tenancy-in-common property under the default rules and who also experience great problems with this ownership form.

We offer this program in anticipation of a related ABA book, co-edited by Thomas W. Mitchell and Erica Levine Powers.

  • Contact:
    American Bar Association
    (800) 285-2221