What to Do After Inheriting Land in Ohio

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What to Do After Inheriting Land in Ohio

Bart Waldon

Ohio is known as the "Buckeye State" and residents are referred to as "Buckeyes." This nickname comes from the buckeye tree which is native to the state. The tree gets its name from its fruit, a dark brown nut with a light brown patch that resembles the shape of a deer's eye. Buckeye seeds were considered good luck charms by American Indians, so pioneers who settled in Ohio adopted it as an icon. That's why Ohio State University's sports teams are called the Buckeyes! Both the state tree and the nickname pay homage to Ohio's natural beauty and rich history.

Inheriting land in Ohio can be a blessing or a burden, depending on your situation. As the new landowner, you have some important decisions to make. Here is a guide to help you navigate the process.

Get Organized and Review the Details

When a loved one passes and leaves their land to you, it's normal to feel overwhelmed as the new owner. Once you've had time to process the life change, it's important to gather information.

Locating all the paperwork related to the inherited property should be step one. Track down the original deed, title, plat map, tax documents, mineral rights information, leases, and anything else related to the land. Make plenty of copies for your records, because you'll refer back to these later.

Don't fret if some documents elude you at first. Your county's recorder office likely has duplicates of many older land records on file. Schedule a visit to dig up manuals, microfiche, or digital copies. Having complete paperwork from the start sets you up for success.

Though inheriting property feels daunting initially, being organized from the get-go makes the transition smoother. With the right documents in hand, you can better understand the land being passed down. Then you can make informed decisions about its future.

Determine the Property Boundaries

Once you have the deed and plat map in hand, it's time to visit the inherited land yourself. Walk the property to inspect the boundaries firsthand. Look for any survey markers, fences, roads, streams, or other physical demarcations that define the parcel’s edges. While there, be alert for any encroachment from adjoining lands.

If the property boundaries remain unclear after your site visit, it may be wise to hire a professional surveyor. They can precisely establish the legal extent of the land’s borders. This prevents messy property line disputes down the road. Ensure the surveyor's final description exactly matches the deed paperwork you have for the inherited land.

Taking the time to understand the property’s boundaries gives you clarity. Physical inspection paired with professional input sets you up to make sound decisions as the land’s new caretaker.

Consider Whether to Keep or Sell the Land

Now that you understand the property's parameters, it's time for some soul searching. Should you keep or sell the inherited land? This big decision has pros and cons either way.

If keeping the land, make sure you can handle the ongoing property taxes, maintenance costs, and legal liabilities that come with ownership. Also consider whether the property aligns with your lifestyle and long-term goals.

Selling the land can provide a nice lump of cash, but may also mean owing capital gains taxes. Additionally, finding a buyer who will pay fair market value takes effort and patience. It often takes over a year to sell vacant land.

If keeping the inherited property doesn't make sense, yet you want to avoid the hassles of selling it yourself, there are alternatives. Companies like Land Boss specialize in buying unwanted land for cash, providing a faster and simpler way to unload the property.

Carefully weigh both options - keeping or selling. Consider both finances and lifestyle fit. With prudence and patience, you can make the ideal decision for your situation.

Pay Off Any Liens Against the Land

When inheriting property, it's common for liens to be attached to the land. These could include mortgage loans, mechanic's liens, tax liens, HOA liens, or other legal claims against the property.

Before selling or transferring the deed, you must first pay off any valid liens. Carefully review the title paperwork to check for any listed. This will state the dollar amounts owed.

Consult with a real estate attorney to handle proper lien payoffs prior to sale. This releases the land from all financial obligations tied to the previous owner. After paying liens, the remaining sale proceeds rightfully belong to you.

Settling any owed debts clears the way to sell or transfer ownership of the inherited property. While paying liens can be tedious, this step protects you legally down the road.

Decide Whether to Re-Zone the Land

The local municipality has zoning regulations that dictate what can be built on the property. This impacts the land’s use and value.

If the inherited property does not match your intended use, you can request a zoning change through the local planning commission. For example, you may want to re-zone from agricultural to commercial use.

The re-zoning process takes time and money for fees, applications, environmental studies, etc. There’s also no guarantee the request will get approved.

Explore Developing the Land Yourself

If you want to build on or develop the inherited land, make sure to research all regulations in the area. Most counties have specific rules around subdividing land, grading land, wetlands protection, endangered species, and more.

Work with local land use attorneys and engineers to submit the proper applications and site plans. Be aware that developing raw land can take years and cost tens of thousands in development fees alone.

Alternatively, you can look for developers or builders who may want to partner on developing your land. They handle the time and costs of the process, but also take a portion of the profits.

Pay the Property Taxes

Inherited property comes with an obligation to pay property taxes annually. The amount due depends on the county tax assessor’s valuation of the land. This is based on factors like parcel acreage, use type, and location.

You are responsible for property taxes going forward from the time of the previous owner’s death. Pay close attention to tax bills as the county can auction off the land if you fail to pay. Consider setting up an escrow account for taxes.

If selling the land, pro-rate the taxes owed so the buyer pays their portion. Work with a real estate attorney to handle this correctly at closing.

Decide Whether to Retain Mineral Rights

Some properties come with separate mineral rights that allow for exploring and extracting resources below the surface. This could include oil, gas, coal, or other minerals on or under the land.

As the new owner, you can choose to sell, lease, or retain the mineral rights. This decision impacts value of the land. If selling the rights, make sure the sale is properly documented.

Consult with an attorney who specializes in mineral rights to fully understand your options and the process. This area of law can be complex.

Maintain the Land Responsibly

If you plan to keep the inherited property for the foreseeable future, you now have the duties of a landowner. This includes maintaining the land in a safe manner.

Cut back overgrown vegetation. Pick up any trash. Repair any dilapidated structures. Install fencing around hazards. Remove dead trees that could fall. Failure to do so can make you liable for injuries.

Also monitor the land periodically for any trespassing or unauthorized use. Post no trespassing signs if needed. Remaining an engaged landowner reduces liability risks.

Weigh the Decision Carefully

Inheriting land can be a great windfall or a terrible burden. Avoid rash decisions. Seek input from professionals like attorneys and appraisers. Consider both the short and long-term implications.

Selling for fast cash may seem appealing at first. But land that’s been in the family for generations may be worth keeping. Take time to make the best choice for your situation.

With careful planning and strategic decision making, you can turn your inherited land into a valuable asset. Just be sure to do your due diligence at each step of the process. This will lead to positive outcomes as the new landowner.

Final Words

Inheriting property may seem like a straightforward windfall, but land ownership comes with important legal and financial considerations. For those inheriting land in Ohio, be sure to thoroughly research regulations, pay off any liens, consider re-zoning needs, weigh development options, and maintain the property responsibly. While inheriting Ohio land can be a great opportunity, it also involves new duties. Tackle these obligations as the new landowner head on. With strategic planning and objective advice from professionals, you can make the most of your inherited Ohio property for years to come. The Buckeye State offers scenic landscapes and plenty of potential if you inherit the right parcel. With thoughtful strategy, your new property can be a valuable asset that remains in the family for generations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What taxes will I owe on inherited land in Ohio?

You will need to pay annual property taxes on the land going forward. There is no inheritance tax in Ohio, but you may owe capital gains taxes if you sell the land for a profit compared to its value when acquired by the previous owner.

Do I need to immediately put inherited property in my name?

Yes, you should transfer the deed and title into your name as soon as possible after inheriting land in Ohio. This documents you as the legal owner.

Are there any time limits on challenging an inherited property deed?

In Ohio, heirs have up to 4 years from the time of death to contest the validity of a deed transfer if they believe the previous owner was not mentally fit. After 4 years pass, the deed becomes incontestable.

What happens if someone is already living on land I inherit in Ohio?

Usually you must honor any valid leases on the property. Review the lease terms carefully. You typically must give adequate notice, as stated in the lease, if you want tenants to vacate inherited property.

Can I sell mineral rights separate from inherited land in Ohio?

Yes, Ohio allows mineral rights to be separate from surface land rights. You can retain mineral rights even if you sell the land. Get professional guidance to understand the valuation and process.

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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