Have you inherited land without a clear title or documented legal ownership? USDA can help you establish a farm number to gain access to a variety of programs and services.
Heirs’ property is family owned land that is jointly owned by descendants of a deceased person whose estate did not clear probate. The descendants, or heirs, have the right to use the property, but they do not have a clear or marketable title to the property since the estate issues remain unresolved.
Land is passed down without a will or deed to prove ownership. Each successive generation generally results in more heirs being added to the land inheritance. The absence of the deed or will becomes more complicated and grows by generation as time and people pass.
Without proof of ownership, it may become difficult for heirs to obtain federal benefits for farms and could also force partition sales by third parties.
The 2018 Farm Bill authorized alternative documentation for heirs’ property operators to establish a farm number. A farm number is required to be eligible for many different USDA programs, including lending, disaster relief programs, and participation in county committees.
Learn more about heirs’ property in this “Ask the Expert” interview with Farm Service Agency’s J. Latrice Hill.
Operators on heirs’ property who cannot provide owner verification, or a lease agreement, may provide alternative documents to substantiate they are in general control of the farming operation.
Download our “Guidance for Heirs’ Property Operators Participating in Farm Service Agency (FSA) Programs” fact sheet to learn more.
The 2018 Farm Bill also authorized the Heirs' Property Relending Program. The relending program will provide loan funds to eligible lenders to resolve ownership and succession on farmland with multiple owners. The lenders will give loans to qualified individuals to resolve these ownership issues.
USDA offers a variety of farm loan, risk management, disaster assistance, and conservation programs to support farmers, including heirs’ property landowners once they have a farm number.
USDA also has several special provisions and resources for heirs’ property landowners, including:
- Targeted funding through farm loans
- Crop insurance benefits
- Conservation program benefits
- Heirs’ Property fact sheet
- USDA Assistance for Heirs’ Property Landowners fact sheet
- Heirs' Property Relending Program webpage
- Video: Join FSA as we talk with the Experts
- USDA FSA Heirs Property Webinars
- Guidance for Heirs’ Property Operators to Participate in FSA Programs
- Get Started! A Guide to USDA Resources for Historically Underserved Farmers and Ranchers
- Beginning Farmers webpage and Farm Loan Discovery Tool
- FSA Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Loans webpage
- Contact Your Farm Service Agency State Outreach Coordinator
- NRCS Historically Underserved Producers webpage
- RMA Beginning or Veteran Farmers and Ranchers
- Heirs Property Toolkit was developed through a cooperative agreement between USDA and the Land Trust Alliance to help entities, including land trusts and state and local government partners, understand challenges related to easement enrollment on land that includes heir’s property. The toolkit is a starting point for exploring heirs’ property — what it is, who it affects, what resources are available, and what role entities can play in helping landowners manage or resolve heirs’ property issues and participate in easement programs.
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