My wife's grandmother passed away 32 years ago, leaving a will and property which went through probate, with probate being closed 31 years ago. 4 undeveloped residential lots were left in her name and neither of her two sons wanted the land. Both sons have since passed away. My wife and I are now paying back taxes on the land and have spoken to other family members who do not want the land. We would like to update the deed to reflect that we are taking possession of it. The land is also in a separate county from the one probate occurred in.
All heirs have been contacted, and none want to property, except my wife and I. If the taxes are not paid the property is going to auction. It has been 32 years since last paid. My wife and I are interested in eventually building on the land and possibly retiring there. Sadly the cost of an attorney is beyond the salaries of civil servants. Just want to add....thank you for the responses. We have a copy of the original will, and what is in there may make a huge difference...if it happens to have been willed to my wife's father, his probate may still be open which appears to mean we can have that assigned to her directly through that process.
Oil / Gas Attorney
To act on behalf of the estate, you will need an executor appointed. So you will most likely need to reopen the probate and have a successor executor appointed. Now, the executor has to distribute the property pursuant to the will, so it will go to the 2 sons' estates. Depending on how their estates were to be distributed, will determine which family members you need to deal with to get this property properly cleared to you. You may need executors in the sons' estates too.
Go see a probate attorney. There are a lot of potential issues to deal with, no silver bullet for this one.
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Estate Planning Attorney
I agree with Mr. Koel. Gather all the documents you have regarding the grandmother's estate, deeds on the properties, and the two son's estates. Take all of this documentation to a probate attorney who can review what has happened and guide you going forward. Without reviewing the documents, it is impossible to give you a solid answer.
Best of Luck!
Newill Law Firm
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I would just add to the other answers: until you know this property is yours or will be yours, stop paying the taxes. If may never be worth what you are paying and title may be perpetually clouded. If there is a good answer, you need to consult with an attorney to determine the options.
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Everyone is absolutely correct. However, is it possible to purchase the land, or the rights to the land, from the taxing authorities. At this point in time, it could be much less expensive for various reasons. Just a thought possibly worth exploring. Still, you should certainly discuss all options with a local attorney. I would probably try to find an attorney that has experience with tax sales and tax liens first.
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I agree with my colleagues in each and every respect here. Assuming the property in question passed to the sons mentioned in your grandmother's will, it's important to know how that property passed upon their deaths (by will, intestate, etc.). That information will indicate who has current legal possession of the property, and who you need to approach in order to obtain the rights to it. I also agree with the answer regarding taxes-stop paying them until you have a better idea of these things, because it's possible that it might all be a waste of money. If the property goes to auction due to the unpaid property taxes, you don't want to risk someone snatching it out from you despite having laid out fund to satisfy past tax obligations (that will now benefit someone else). Get all the documents you can (grandmother's will, etc.) and go see a qualfied estate planning/probate/wills and trusts attorney.