What to Do After Inheriting Land in Indiana

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What to Do After Inheriting Land in Indiana
By

Bart Waldon

Inheriting land in Indiana can be a blessing but also comes with its own set of challenges. As the new land owner, you'll need to make some important decisions on what to do next. This guide will walk you through the key steps to take after inheriting land in Indiana.

Get Organized and Review the Will or Trust

The first thing you'll want to do is get organized. Locate the will or trust document that specifies you as the inheritor of the land. Review the document closely to understand any conditions, restrictions or timelines associated with the inheritance. For example, you may need to take ownership of the land within a certain timeframe.

Make copies of the will or trust and save it in a safe place. You'll need to reference this documentation frequently as you move through the process.

Work with an Estate Planning Attorney

Even if the will or trust seems straightforward, it's wise to consult an estate planning attorney licensed in Indiana. An attorney can help explain any confusing legal terminology and ensure you meet any requirements tied to the inheritance. They can also advise you on the best next steps based on your unique situation.

Attorneys who specialize in estate planning regularly handle land transfers in Indiana. Look for one experienced in property law. Ask friends or family for a recommendation or search online for a reputable estate attorney in your area.

Get the Property Deed

To assume legal ownership of the inherited property, you'll need the deed transferred to your name. The deed is the legal document that shows ownership of real estate.

First, obtain a copy of the current deed from the county recorder's office where the land is located. This will show if there are any co-owners of the property you'll need to coordinate with.

Next, your attorney can help prepare a new deed listing you as the land owner. After the new deed is signed and notarized, it must be recorded with the county for the transfer to be complete.

Review Property Taxes

Make sure to check on any unpaid property taxes on the land. As the owner, you'll be responsible for remaining taxes owed. The county auditor's office can provide a property tax statement.

For inherited property, you may be eligible for a special valuation for tax purposes, so the property taxes don't increase just because the land's ownership changed. Consult your attorney to understand if you qualify for any property tax adjustments.

Going forward, you’ll be responsible for paying property taxes annually to avoid penalties or risk of the property going to tax sale. Be sure to budget for these ongoing costs.

Inspect the Land Thoroughly

Before making any decisions on the land, take time to thoroughly inspect the property you inherited. Walk the property lines to understand the terrain and identify any potential issues or risks.

Look for signs of needed repairs like broken fencing or damaged outbuildings. Check for hazardous waste that may need professional mitigation. Examine vegetation overgrowth and erosion issues.

If the property has existing structures, arrange to have a home inspector look at electrical, plumbing, roofing, etc. Their professional assessment can uncover problems you’ll need to address.

Consider aerial views too using Google Maps or drone footage to get a bird's eye perspective.

Understand How the Land is Zoned

Contact the county or city planning department to find out how the inherited property is currently zoned. Zoning dictates what you can legally do with the land based on factors like:

  • Location
  • Surrounding properties
  • Natural features
  • Access to roads and public utilities

If you hoped to develop or divide the land, current zoning rules may restrict or prevent those plans unless you pursue rezoning.

Consult your attorney or local zoning office for help interpreting zoning restrictions on your inherited real estate.

Decide Whether to Keep or Sell the Land

Once you have a complete understanding of the inherited property, you can start evaluating your options. The two main decisions are:

1. Keep the land either to use now or hold for the future.

2. Sell the land through a real estate agent, auction site, or direct to buyers.

Here are some of the key factors to help determine if you should keep or sell the inherited land:

Reasons to Keep the Land

  • Has sentimental family value
  • Land is increasing in market value
  • Plan to live on or use the land someday
  • Income opportunity from farming, mineral rights, etc.

Reasons to Sell the Land

  • Too costly to maintain and pay taxes on unused land
  • Land requires more improvements/repairs than feasible
  • Needs exceed what land is worth if sold
  • Usage too restricted by zoning limitations

Take time to carefully weigh both the emotional and financial considerations before deciding to keep or sell.

Pay Off Any Existing Liens

If there are any outstanding mortgages, loans or judgments against the inherited real estate, these will need to be paid in full prior to transferring or selling the land.

Contact lenders to get payoff quotes on remaining balances owed. Consult your attorney on the best way to resolve any liens or encumbrances on the property so it can be freely transferred.

Consider Capital Gains Taxes

If you opt to sell the inherited land, be aware you may owe capital gains taxes on any profits from the sale. However, inherited property comes with some potential capital gains tax exemptions.

Consult a tax professional to understand capital gains tax implications when selling inherited real estate. With proper planning, you may be able to minimize or avoid taxes.

Choose a Method to Sell the Land

If selling is the right decision, here are common methods to market inherited land for sale:

  • Real estate agent - Hire a knowledgeable local agent to list and show the property to buyers. They typically charge a commission rate when the property sells.
  • Auctions - Auction sites like eBay or specialized land auction companies can facilitate competitive bidding for the property.
  • Post online listings - List the land for sale directly on classified ads sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
  • Network locally - Talk to nearby land owners, farmers, developers who may be interested in buying the property.
  • Investors - Companies like Land Boss buy unwanted inherited land with cash for a fair price. This avoids time and hassles of selling through traditional methods.

Weigh the pros and cons of each option for your situation. Setting a competitive sale price and marketing the property to motivated buyers can help ensure it sells smoothly.

Transfer Ownership Carefully

Once you have a buyer for the land, take care in documenting the ownership transfer. Consult your attorney to review sale contracts and make sure all aspects of the transaction are handled legally.

The buyer may require an owner’s title insurance policy too for protection. After the sale closes, promptly file the deed with county records to complete the legal transfer of the land to the buyer.

Use Profits Wisely

Net proceeds from the sale should go to you as the rightful heir after paying required taxes, sales commissions, and closing costs. Be wise and strategic in how you use any profits gained from selling inherited land.

Paying off your own debts, investing for retirement, or funding education costs are great ways to leverage windfall cash from a land sale. Manage the money responsibly to set yourself up for long-term security.

Get Support for Your Inherited Land

Inheriting land in Indiana brings a unique set of responsibilities and decisions. It can be a lot to take on alone. Seek support from experienced professionals like attorneys and tax advisors to ensure you handle matters properly.

Also consider services of reputable land companies like Land Boss that buy unwanted inherited properties for fair cash offers. Their land buying expertise can simplify selling off an inherited burden.

With the right guidance, inheriting land can become a true financial boon. By following these key steps, you’ll be equipped to take control of your new real estate asset and unlock its full potential now or in the future.

Final Thoughts

Inheriting property may seem like a straightforward windfall, but the reality is inheriting land requires work to handle properly. By taking the right steps like reviewing documents, resolving liens, evaluating zoning, fixing problems, and working with professionals, you can truly benefit from land passed down in Indiana. With good planning, navigating this complex process leads to either keeping a valuable asset or selling at the highest value. Inherited property can become a gift that keeps on giving with strategic decisions upfront that open up its possibilities. While inheriting land takes effort, the rewards for you and your family make it worthwhile.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What taxes will I owe when inheriting land?

Inherited land may be subject to estate taxes at the federal and/or state level. However, with proper estate planning, these taxes may be minimized or avoided entirely. You should consult an estate planning attorney and tax professional to understand any tax obligations.

Can I be forced to take ownership of inherited property?

Typically you cannot be forced to accept inherited land if you do not want it. However, there may be some exceptions if you have signed legal documents agreeing to take ownership. Refusing an inheritance needs to be done properly by signing a disclaimer form.

Do I have to pay off debts tied to land I inherit?

If there are any mortgages, liens, loans, or judgments associated with the inherited land, you generally do have to resolve these debts prior to taking clear ownership. An attorney can advise you on properly clearing these encumbrances.

How can I determine the market value of inherited land?

Hiring an appraiser can help establish fair market value for inheritance tax purposes or if you plan to sell the land. Also compare prices for recent land sales in the same area and with similar attributes to help estimate current value.

What happens if I want to sell inherited property I jointly own with others?

For jointly inherited land, you would need consent and participation of all co-owners to list and sell the property. Legal help drafting the sale agreement would be advisable to protect all owners’ rights in the transaction.

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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