What to Do After Inheriting Land in Oklahoma

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What to Do After Inheriting Land in Oklahoma
By

Bart Waldon

Oklahoma, the Sooner State, is known for its unique prairie landscape, Native American heritage, and oil rich land. If you have recently inherited land in Oklahoma, you likely have many questions about what steps to take next. As a state with complex real estate laws and regulations, it is prudent to seek guidance when navigating the process of handling inherited property. This article will provide an overview of your options, things to consider, and where to turn for assistance when inheriting land in Oklahoma.

We'll cover key topics such as properly assessing the land and its value, weighing pros and cons of keeping versus selling the inherited property, handling potential taxes and legalities involved, and where consult qualified professionals like real estate attorneys to guide your decisions. Our aim is to empower you with the knowledge needed to make well-informed, thoughtful choices about how best to deal with land passed down in Oklahoma. Let's explore this further!

Assessing Exactly What Land You Have Inherited

The first priority is gaining clarity on the property itself by determining the following specifics:

  • Acreage – Obtain land surveys mapping out total acreage. In Oklahoma, range land is measured by animal unit months to quantify grazing capacity over land area.
  • Location – Identify where property sits vis-à-vis the nearest town/city plus proximity to main access roads and highways. Consider distance to critical infrastructure like water, electricity, gas lines.
  • Existing Structures – Note any buildings or infrastructure already there like barns, sheds, fences, oil/gas equipment.
  • Natural Resources – Research which natural resources exist on the land itself including bodies of water, mineral deposits, soil quality, timber, etc.
  • Property Records – Pull title history, deed filings, rights of way, liens to spot any existing encumbrances.

Once aware of what the inherited land fully encompasses, next assess its estimated fair market value.

Gauging the Land’s Market Value

Start by researching sales prices for recent land transactions of comparable vacant plots or similar properties in the vicinity. This provides a benchmark on value. However, pinpointing the true market value also depends on factors like:

  • Area development plans – Nearby investments in infrastructure, buildings, public works all can positively impact value.
  • Mineral/oil rights – Active deposits and potential drilling rights command premium pricing.
  • Property demand – Trends in commercial, residential, or agricultural interest shapes valuations.

Given the volatility, an appraisal by a licensed professional is highly recommended. This arms you with a credible third-party assessment of the property’s worth to inform decisions. Whether keeping the land or selling it, understanding the current and projected value based on market conditions and other variables allows you to maximize outcomes.

Key Tradeoffs: Keeping the Inherited Land Versus Selling It

Once you have a handle on what property you have inherited and its estimated market value, weighing different options emerges as the next step. A major fork in the road is whether to keep the inherited land or move ahead with selling it. There are pros and cons to each route. You want to closely assess how different factors play into your situation.

Potential benefits of retaining inherited property:

  • Generating income – Ongoing royalties from oil/mineral rights or leasing land for farming, ranching, hunting access can create revenue streams.
  • Price appreciation – Land values potentially rising over longer time horizons by holding creates wealth.
  • Emotional reasons – Maintaining a family homestead or not wanting to let go of ancestral lands.

Downsides that come with continued land ownership include:

  • Carrying costs – Paying property taxes, maintenance fees, and insurance premiums.
  • Legal obligations – Ensuring clear title, managing easements/rights of way, boundary disputes with neighbors.
  • Property upkeep – The work and expense of securing vacant land and preventing trespassing/squatting.

Alternatively, opting to sell inherited property outright allows you to take the current fair market value in cash, reinvest the proceeds elsewhere and avoid the downsides above. However, you also lose potential upside gains if the land value appreciates substantially later on. Carefully weighing these kinds of tradeoffs based on your personal financial picture and life priorities will steer you towards the optimal decision.

Steps to Take When Selling an Inherited Property

If after assessing the pros and cons, you decide selling the inherited real estate is the right route, make sure you take the proper steps:

  • Pay Any Back Taxes Owed – Clear any outstanding property tax bills or liens on the land title.
  • Confirm Shared Ownership – Verify with all inheriting heirs/beneficiaries before listing property for sale.
  • Research Sale Options Available – Consider selling through an agent, auction house, directly, or contacting local land buying companies.
  • Invest in Land Preparation – Make any repairs needed to access roads, fencing, oil/gas equipment to boost marketability.
  • List the Property Proactively – Employ both digital marketing and yard signs/flyers to ensure maximum visibility of listing.
  • Price Attractively – Consider pricing underneath comparative comps by factoring in needed negotiations.
  • Field All Reasonable Offers – Entertain all fair market value bids, provide counteroffers to keep deal momentum.
  • Vet Prospective Buyers – Screen buyer financing capability, background, intent before finalizing transaction.
  • Leverage Professionals – Utilize lawyers, title companies, escrow services to ensure smooth sale completion.

Adhering to these best practices will help you secure a buyer efficiently and close out the sale of your inherited property with favorable terms.

Navigating Taxes on Inherited Land

A common question for those inheriting property regards the potential tax implications accompanying land ownership. While inheriting land itself does not generate income tax, any gains from selling property may be taxable. Here is a summary of key taxes to keep on your radar:

  • Capital Gains Taxes – The difference between the inherited land value basis and eventual sales value gets taxed after deductions.
  • Property/Realty Taxes – Local county/city property taxes are due annually based on assessed value and set millage rates.
  • Estate Taxes – Inheritances above $5 million in Oklahoma may incur estate taxes. Below this amount, estate taxes do not apply.
  • Income Taxes on Generated Revenue – If leasing land for income, reporting requirements exist around royalty payments received.

Consulting accountants or tax attorneys to discuss specifics around past deductions, sale prices, etc. allows you to minimize tax obligations.

Where to Seek Expert Guidance

Given the enormity of decisions accompanying inherited land, seeking legal and financial guidance around your rights, options and next steps is highly advisable. Here are key specialists you may want to connect with:

  • Real Estate Attorney – Can advise on property title transfers, contracts, zoning, easements, mineral rights disputes and much more.
  • Accountants – Can provide strategic tax planning guidance around preserving inherited land or selling it.
  • Appraisers – Can assess property valuation to objectively gauge current market value and projected appreciation.
  • Auctioneers – Can market land widely to qualified buyers and secure competitive bids in public forum.
  • Title Company – Can research back records and verify clean title so ownership transfer is seamless.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

Inheriting any amount of land in Oklahoma comes loaded with considerations around keeps vs. selling, pricing variables, taxes due, legal wrangling and locating competent advisors. Key takeaways include:

  • Fully identify scope of inherited land itself - location, acreage, existing structures, natural resources.
  • Gauge market value via appraisal considering area development, mineral rights and demand trends.
  • Weigh benefits of retaining land vs selling immediately based on income goals and personal priorities.
  • If selling, proactively prep land, market aggressively and vet all serious purchase offers.
  • Consult real estate attorneys, CPAs and other specialists to protect interests.

While inheriting property can be highly complex, following these guidelines arms you to make the most educated decisions. We hope this overview gives you ample food for thought and a game plan to move forward with confidence around inherited land. Please seek additional counsel to address specific questions as they arise throughout the process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I have to pay taxes when I inherit land?

You do not have to pay income taxes on inherited land. However, you will be responsible for paying ongoing property taxes based on the assessed value of the land. If you later sell the land for more than the value at the time of inheritance, capital gains taxes would apply on the gains.

What fees typically come with transferring inherited property into my name?

Expect to pay costs such as legal fees to handle the title transfer, recording fees to file the new deed, and probate court costs. You may also choose to purchase title insurance for further protection. Shop around for the best rates.

I inherited land jointly with family members. What should we do?

If inheriting land with other heirs, it's important for everyone to discuss intentions right away. Do you all want to retain joint ownership or does someone want to buy out others? Jointly-owned property can get complicated quickly if you have different goals in mind.

How can I determine what my inherited property is worth?

Hiring a certified appraiser to assess your inherited land will give you an objective, professional opinion on fair market valuation. This accounting for factors like land size, location, existing structures, natural resources, accessibility and local area sales.

What are the pros and cons of keeping inherited land vs. selling it?

Holding the land can provide ongoing income through mineral rights, farming leases, etc. It may also increase in value over many years. However, you also take on costs like taxes, maintenance fees and insurance while waiting to sell. Selling provides instant cash, but you lose future upside if the land appreciates substantially later on.

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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