Who is an Heir?

The Mystery of…Et al?

From time to time, clients ask who is – “Et al?”  The phrase “Et al” often appears on tax bills and other documents describing the ownership of  land. “Et al” is a term counties use to show that a property is owned by more than one person.  It is easier than individually listing the name of each and every owner. Each county is different, however, and each piece of heirs’ property has its own legal history.

The tax bill may not show all the correct owner(s) or be a true reflection of legal title. While the county tax assessors do the best they can, obtaining the information to determine legal ownership of heirs’ property can be very difficult and is not what a particular county tax assessor’s office is set-up to do.

If you have any questions regarding the ownership of your land, you should seek the Center’s help or the assistance of an experienced attorney.

Who is an Heir?

An heir is anyone related “by blood” to the last person named on the deed to the heirs’ property and those persons related to him/her by law or birth, including:

  • A Spouse by legal marriage
  • A Spouse by “common law” – providing they have lived together and presented themselves openly to the community/public as husband and wife
  • A Spouse who is separated but not legally divorced
  • Children by birth
  • Children by legal adoption
  • Outside children
  • Children of a separated but not divorced spouse  (There is no such thing as “common law ” divorce!)

Who is NOT an Heir?

  • “Raised” children (not legally adopted)
  • Legally divorced spouses
Ercelle was one of seven heirs owning seven acres of land together. Now, she has a clear title to her own acre and plants a summer and winter garden on it every year.

Ercelle was one of seven heirs owning seven acres of land together. Now, she has a clear title to her own acre and plants a summer and winter garden on it every year.

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