What to Do After Inheriting Land in Alabama?

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What to Do After Inheriting Land in Alabama?

Bart Waldon

Inheriting land in Alabama can be a complex and emotional process, especially if you are still determining what steps to take next. According to a recent study by the Alabama Center for Real Estate, approximately 8% of all land transfers in the state are the result of inheritance. Additionally, the Alabama Department of Revenue reports that inherited land accounts for nearly $500 million in assessed property value statewide. 

While inheriting land can be a valuable asset, it also comes with a range of responsibilities and decisions that must be addressed. From understanding the legal and tax implications to determining whether to keep, sell, or develop the property, it's essential to carefully consider your options and seek professional guidance to ensure a smooth and successful transition of ownership.

Get Organized and Research the Details

The first step after inheriting is getting your ducks in a row. Gather important documents like the deed, tax records, mineral rights leases, surveys, titles and other items related to the land. Review all paperwork thoroughly to understand exactly what you have acquired – the acreage, boundary lines, what is included with the land, etc.

It’s also crucial to pin down the property's current market value, as prices can shift over time. Consult experienced local real estate agents to get an expert appraisal. Values vary tremendously based on the location, road access, timber quality, mineral deposits, development potential and other variables. Without a recent valuation, it’s impossible to intelligently decide whether to sell or keep the inherited asset.

Calculate the Annual Costs of Retaining the Land

Owning raw land ongoing costs that must be accounted for. Property taxes, insurance premiums, routine maintenance expenses and management fees add up. If keeping the land, you may need to budget for clearing brush, removing trash, maintaining roadways, managing timber, etc.

If there is already a mortgage attached to the property, determine whether you want to pay it off or keep making payments. Closely review all inheritance and financial paperwork to fully understand the scope of expenses ahead of time.

Explore Possible Uses if Retaining the Property

Before selling inherited land, think creatively about whether you may want to use it yourself. It could allow building a secluded residence, vacation cabin or hobby farm. The acreage might be used for recreational pursuits like hunting, ATV riding or horseback riding. If conditions allow, the land could support timber, row crops, orchards or livestock to generate income.

If keeping the property, make a plan to either profitably utilize it or budget for carrying costs from other funds. The right location, features and vision could make the inherited land a treasured asset for generations to come.

Consult an Estate Planning Lawyer

Schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss the inheritance. They can advise you on legal angles like avoiding capital gains taxes when selling, using trusts, gifting all or part of the land to family, and Medicaid estate recovery rules.

An attorney can also help resolve any ownership disputes, title issues or probate complications. Their expertise protects your interests and prevents costly mistakes down the road.

Consider Land Management Assistance

If retaining the land, consider enlisting help managing it from a company like Land Boss. They can oversee tasks like annual inspections, clearing fence lines, installing signage, removing trespassers, maintaining roadways and coordinating timber harvests.

Professional land management helps cover carrying costs through timber or leasing revenue. It also ensures the property is monitored and cared for consistently.

Decide Whether to Sell the Inherited Property

Selling the inherited land simplifies finances and delivers cash from the sale. But when is the ideal time to sell? Local real estate professionals can provide input on current market factors and prices to help determine the optimum time to list the property.

If you need money quickly, you may have to accept a lower offer rather than trying to maximize price by waiting 1-2 years. Companies that purchase land outright like Land Boss can make fair cash offers to take the property off your hands fast.

Market the Land Effectively to Get Top Dollar

To obtain full market value when selling, it’s essential to market the property extensively. Engage an experienced real estate agent skilled at selling rural land. Ensure noticeable “For Sale” signage is installed on the actual property.

Advertise online, in print publications, and through your agent’s networks. Contact adjacent landowners, as they may have interest in expanding their existing holdings. Patience and persistence are required to connect with the ideal buyer.

Remain Flexible on Price and Terms

When selling land, flexibility on offering price and deal terms often results in higher ultimate returns. Consider creative options like owner financing, longer closing timelines, lease-to-own terms, or trading partial interest rather than only listing at a fixed price.

Accepting a fair cash offer from a qualified buyer, even if it’s below full asking price, allows faster sale compared to holding out for years trying to maximize every dollar.

Meet with an Accountant about Tax Implications

Schedule a consultation with an accountant to minimize taxes related to the inherited property. If selling the land, capital gains taxes will apply based on the property’s gained value since original acquisition.

Strategies like a 1031 exchange can potentially defer capital gains tax liability. An accountant can explain the most tax-advantaged moves to make.

Analyze the Pros and Cons Thoroughly

Deciding the ideal course with inherited rural land is rarely straightforward. Create a comprehensive list detailing the pros and cons of selling versus keeping the property based on the criteria above. Weigh factors like market value, carrying costs, family intentions, and your own financial needs.

Take time to carefully examine all angles after consulting local real estate professionals, land managers, attorneys, tax specialists and financial advisors to make the most informed decision possible. There’s no one right answer for everyone, as it depends entirely on your specific situation.

If Selling to a Company, Let Them Handle the Details

If you decide to sell to a company that purchases land like Land Boss, they will manage the entire closing process including due diligence, title clearance, surveys, assessments and approvals. This makes it simple to sell the inherited property for cash without the headaches.

Close the Sale and Manage Finances Wisely

Once you accept an offer, work efficiently to close on schedule. If selling, use the sale proceeds judiciously – pay off debt, minimize capital gains tax exposure and maximize inheritance value for heirs through careful financial planning.

Update your will, trust and beneficiary designations to reflect the inherited asset. With sound guidance from professionals, this windfall can greatly benefit your family’s future financial security.

Take Your Time and Seek Input

This is a major financial decision, so avoid rushing into choices you'll regret. Spend time exploring all your options for the inherited property. Seek feedback from family members, real estate agents, land management firms, accountants, and attorneys to make an informed decision.

With careful analysis and professional help, you can turn your inherited Alabama land into a valuable asset for you and your heirs. Take a thoughtful approach as you move forward.

Final Words

Inheriting land in Alabama brings both opportunities and obligations. Following this guide will help you evaluate your alternatives objectively. Keeping the land can provide enjoyment or income if you manage it properly. Selling allows you to free up the equity for other uses.

Get legal and tax guidance to avoid missteps. Weigh the costs of hanging onto the property versus the potential sale price. With research and patience, inherited land can be a lucrative asset for your family's future. Use this windfall wisely as you move ahead.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What taxes and fees come with inheriting land in Alabama?

Inheriting land may incur property taxes, recording fees, attorney fees, appraisal costs, and potentially estate taxes depending on the value. Work with professionals to minimize expenses and tax liability.

Can I build a house on inherited rural land in Alabama?

In some areas zoning permits building homes on acreages, but there may be restrictions like minimum lot sizes. Research regulations with the local zoning office before making plans.

Is it better to sell inherited land or keep it in the family?

It depends on your financial needs and intentions for the land. Consult professionals to weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether to sell or retain the property.

How do I determine the market value for inherited property in Alabama?

Hire an accredited appraiser familiar with local land values to assess the property. Also consult local real estate agents for recent comparable sales. Multiple opinions give the best estimate.

How long does it take to sell inherited land in Alabama?

It typically takes 1-2 years to sell rural land if priced right. Hiring an agent to extensively market the property helps maximize the sale price and minimize time on market.

About The Author

Bart Waldon

Bart, co-founder of Land Boss with wife Dallas Waldon, boasts over half a decade in real estate. With 100+ successful land transactions nationwide, his expertise and hands-on approach solidify Land Boss as a leading player in land investment.


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