Determination of Heirship

I’ve got a signed agreement on approx. 30 acres in Texas. There is a deed in existence from the 1960’s, but lots of missing signatures. Thought about moving on from the deal but it was suggested that I consider a suit to quiet title. Spoke to my RE Attorney about it, but since he does not do litigation he referred me to an attorney who does. This new attorney says what actually is required is a ‘Determination of Heirship’ suit. The process involves a district judge appointing an Ad Litem attorney (neutral 3rd party) to perform the research and try to determine the actual heirs. I’d be responsible for my attorney’s fees as well as the ad litem attorney’s fees. He said typical charges in these cases could easily add up to $10k and even much higher, depending on the number of potential heirs, legwork involved, etc. Curious if anyone else has come up against this who could offer input. Thanks.

For this, some states are better than others. Texas is tough. Unless you are a seasoned pro, and you have time and money to burn, and the deal is big enough to make it worth it, my advice would be to move on.

@bkjewell I’m in a similiar position: 80 Acres in AZ, owned by 2 brothers, one is deceased and his wife contacted me and signed the PA along with the alive owner. I just sent the PA + death certificate to the Title Agent (no probate, will, trust…NADA…). I will let you know how it evolves.

@jay-b Thank you for the input Jason. I wish I were one of those folks who had money to burn! I very much appreciate your input.

@arturo Thank you for the input Arturo. Yes please do let me know how this one works out!

1 Like

@bkjewell wow, that sounds excessively expensive… but I’m no expert in Texas law.

I’m not sure what price you got this one under contract, but if it’s worth $10K or more to you, all-in, maybe you could get the seller to come down on their selling price to make room for this expanse (since anyone will have to deal with this issue in order to take clear title to the property).

You could also work on getting more clarity on what it will actually cost to take care of this determination of heirship business. When I look at what you said in your original post,

He said typical charges in these cases could easily add up to $10k and even much higher, depending on the number of potential heirs, legwork involved, etc.

The words “up to $10K” leave me wondering, will it be less than $10K? Could it be higher than $10K? What cost are we actually talking about here?

This kind of wild guess isn’t very helpful in crunching numbers. Might be worth talking to the attorney (or a few attorneys, for that matter) and asking for an actual quote on the work.

@retipsterseth Thank you for the input Seth. I actually received some insight yesterday from another member who mentioned receiving actual quotes as well, and also to consider speaking with Attorney’s practicing in the actual county where the land is located. The attorney I mentioned in the original post is located here in the Houston area where I live. He spoke mainly of his dealings in a different part of the state than where this land is located. Perhaps it could make a difference to deal with someone who has firsthand knowledge/insight in a particular county. I definitely plan to find out!
Thanks again for your input

1 Like

@bkjewell that sounds like a good next step. A lot of attorneys have given me answers that sounded conclusive, even when they didn’t have all the information.

It’s a profession where confidence and confident-sounding responses are usually rewarded (even if the answers are wrong or incomplete). I’ve seen this happen more times than I can count… so, if the correct answer really matters, I would definitely call around to a few attorneys in the appropriate market to make sure you’re getting solid information.