Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    Heirs’ property is a form of tenancy in common. It is typically inherited land passed to subsequent generations as
    intestate property, or property inherited outside of the formal probate process, without “clear title.” In economic
    terms, this form of property ownership can result in inefficient property uses, as owners tend to under-invest in
    such properties, owing to uncertainties regarding returns on investments. This, in turn, contributes to a diminution
    of wealth for affected families. Unclear titles also impede homeowners’ ability to apply for various forms of land and home improvement aid offered by federal agencies. As well, tenancies in common have the effect of intensifying already existing vulnerabilities of place, again, because constraints on homeowners’ access to equity make home improvements less likely.
        The magnitude of the heirs’ property phenomenon is not well-understood. Extant estimates are dated and often not verifiable; and no systematic means of identifying these parcels has been accepted. We present a methodology for assessing the accuracy of predictors typically used to identify heirs’ parcels using logistic models and data from a rural Appalachian county (Leslie County, KY) and a more urban Black Belt1 county (Macon-Bibb County, GA). This is the first attempt to empirically examine these predictors. Year property was last sold and financial caretaker are the strongest predictors in both counties. Using these indicators, the percent of correctly predicted heirs’ parcels is about 67 percent in Leslie County and 48 percent in Macon-Bibb County. Applications of this methodology for national forest planning are discussed.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Johnson Gaither, Cassandra; Zarnoch, Stanley J. 2017.Unearthing ‘dead capital’: Heirs’ property prediction in two U.S. southern counties. Land Use Policy. 67: 367-377. 11 p.


    Google Scholar


    Heirs’ property Tenancy in common Land titling

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page