What To do After Inheriting Land in Michigan

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What To do After Inheriting Land in Michigan
By

Bart Waldon

Known as the Great Lake State, Michigan is located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by four of the five Great Lakes. The state has over 11,000 inland lakes and more shoreline than any other state except Alaska. Michigan is diverse geographically, with rolling hills, fertile farmlands, sandy dunes and dense forests throughout its two peninsulas. The state has a rich history rooted in the auto industry and other manufacturing, though its economy today also relies on tourism, agriculture and technological innovation. Michigan experiences cold winters with lake-effect snow, and warm, humid summers. Outdoor recreation like boating, fishing, hiking and camping draws residents and visitors to Michigan's natural beauty. Major cities include Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Lansing, the state capital.

Inheriting land in Michigan can seem like a blessing and a burden all at once. While extra land is a valuable asset, it also comes with costs and responsibilities. If you've recently inherited property in Michigan, you likely have a lot of questions about what to do next. This guide will walk you through the major decisions and steps to take after inheriting land in the Great Lake State.

Get Organized and Do Your Research

The first thing to do after inheriting property is get organized. Locate the deed, property records, tax documents, bills and any other paperwork associated with the land. This will help you understand the scope of what you've inherited.

It's also wise to research the property's history and current status. Run a title search to uncover any liens, mortgages or other encumbrances on the land. Learn when the property was purchased, how much has been paid in taxes and if there are any leases or other contracts in place.

Spend time evaluating the land itself as well. Walk the property and note its condition. Are there buildings or other structures on the site? Does it have road access or need driveways installed? Are there any environmental issues like wetlands or dumping that needs to be addressed?

Getting the lay of the land, both on paper and in person, will prepare you for the next steps.

Consider Selling the Land

One of the first options to consider with inherited land is whether to sell it. There are many good reasons to sell. For one, if the land is vacant, it could be a burden paying taxes and upkeep on a property you don't need. The money gained from selling could be more useful than the land itself.

Selling also allows you to access the land's equity quickly rather than waiting years for appreciation. The selling process provides certainty of timing and control over the land transfer.

There are a few options for how to sell:

  • Sell it yourself - This allows you to set the price and control the transaction, but requires time and skills for marketing, showing the property, negotiating and closing the sale.
  • Hire a real estate agent - An experienced real estate agent can handle marketing and negotiations and has access to qualified buyers. You pay the agent a commission of around 6% of the sale price.
  • Sell to a land buying company - Companies like Land Boss purchase land directly from owners at competitive prices. This provides a fast sale with no commissions or fees.

If selling the inherited property fits your needs, be sure to consult professionals to understand tax implications and optimize the sale.

Keep the Land as an Investment

Rather than selling right away, holding onto the inherited land as an investment is another solid option. Real estate as an asset class has generated strong, stable returns over time. Vacant land in particular has large potential for price appreciation depending on the location.

There are a few ways to generate income from the land while waiting for it to increase in value:

  • Lease it - Granting hunting rights, mineral rights or utility easements can produce annual income.
  • Farm it - If zoned for agriculture, you may be able to lease it to local farmers.
  • Develop it - Building residential units, commercial buildings or even renewable energy infrastructure can create value.

Parking the land while unlocked its investment value does require paying ongoing taxes, management fees and upkeep costs, so be sure the income offsets those expenses.

Move Forward with a Land Project

If you feel passionate about the inherited property, you may want to develop it yourself. With the right location and vision, the land could support anything from housing to retail to recreational facilities.

Before diving into a major land project, vet the idea thoroughly:

  • Research zoning and land use regulations to understand what's allowed.
  • Consult with engineers, architects and contractors to assess feasibility.
  • Create detailed cost projections and have the finances to see it through.
  • Account for extended timeline - land projects often take years to come to fruition.

Proceeding with your own development on inherited land can be highly rewarding but carries substantial risk. Make sure to set realistic expectations.

Donate the Land

Finally, you may consider donating the inherited property to a nonprofit, land trust or government entity. This option allows you to claim a tax deduction based on the appraised value. It also benefits the community by conserving green space or historical sites for public use.

Target recipients who align with your priorities, whether that's open space preservation, housing development or scientific research on the land. Work with the recipient to transfer the property title and maximize your tax benefits.

Donating land you've inherited eliminates the responsibilities of ownership while potentially furthering a cause you care about.

Handle the Legal & Financial Details

Before making any decisions about inherited land, it's critical to address the legal and financial details. Here are steps to take:

  • Update the deed - File a new deed recording the transfer of ownership to your name. This verifies you as the legal owner.
  • Pay outstanding taxes - Make sure all property taxes are paid up to date before proceeding.
  • Review executorship - If you are executor of the estate, follow proper procedures for handling inheritance.
  • Consult professionals - Speak to an attorney, accountant and/or financial advisor to understand legal and tax implications.
  • Check probate status - Make sure the previous owner's will is fully processed through probate court.
  • Explore financing - If you plan to develop or hold the land, look into loans and other capital sources.

Handling the fine print carefully prevents major issues down the road. Don't make decisions in haste without the right legal foundation.

Choose Your Path Forward Wisely

Inheriting property you didn't expect comes with many emotions and tough decisions. While the extra land may seem like a remote blessing at first, with research and planning it can become a valuable asset. Think critically about your options, consult professionals and don't be afraid to sell to a trusted land buyer if that's the optimal choice for you. With patience and guidance, your inherited land can play an important role in your financial future.

Final Thoughts

Inheriting land opens up a realm of possibilities, but also complex decisions. Take time to properly evaluate the property, research options and consult professionals to make the most informed choice. With vision and careful planning, your unexpected land can become a valuable asset. In Michigan specifically, the natural beauty, investment potential and development opportunities make inherited property especially worthwhile. While selling the land is often wise, projects like farming, leasing or building can unlock immense value. Whatever you decide, let the land lead you to a bright financial future right here in the Great Lake State. With the right strategy, your inheritance can be a gift that keeps on giving for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What taxes do I need to pay on inherited land in Michigan?

Inherited property in Michigan may be subject to federal estate taxes and Michigan estate taxes. You'll also owe local property taxes that need to be paid annually. Consult a tax professional to determine what you may owe.

How long does probate take after inheriting land in Michigan?

The probate process in Michigan typically takes 9-12 months. However, it can vary based on the estate's complexity. Until probate closes, inherited land may be in legal limbo.

I want to sell land I inherited in Michigan. How do I determine its market value?

Accurately pricing land requires researching recent comparable sales and current market factors. Consider hiring an appraiser to assess the property's fair market value before listing. An appraisal provides the best sense of what your land is worth.

What regulations apply if I want to develop inherited property in Michigan?

Development projects need to comply with zoning laws, building codes, environmental regulations and more based on your local jurisdiction. Meet with your zoning office early in the process to understand requirements.

How can I reduce taxes when inheriting land in Michigan?

Strategies like donating conservation easements, gifting partial interest in the land, or holding it in trusts may help lower estate and property taxes. Consult an estate planning attorney for options.

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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