Historic Partition Law Reform: A Game Changer for Heirs’ Property Owners

This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.

  • Authors: Mitchell, Thomas W.
  • Publication Year: 2019
  • Publication Series: Proceedings - Paper (PR-P)
  • Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-244. Asheville; NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service; Southern Research Station.


Abstract——Over the course of several decades, many disadvantaged families who owned property under the tenancy-in- common form of ownership—property these families often referred to as heirs’ property—have had their property forcibly sold as a result of court-ordered partition sales. For several decades, repeated efforts to reform State partition laws produced little to no reform despite clear evidence that these laws unjustly harmed many families. This paper addresses the remarkable success of a model State statute named the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (UPHPA), which has been enacted into law in several States since 2011, including in five southern States. The UPHPA makes major changes to partition laws that had undergone little change since the 1800s and provides heirs’ property owners with significantly enhanced property rights. As a result, many more heirs’ property owners should be able to maintain ownership of their property or at least the wealth associated with it.

  • Citation: Mitchell, Thomas W. 2019. Historic Partition Law Reform: A Game Changer for Heirs’ Property Owners. In: Gaither, Cassandra J.; Carpenter, Ann; Lloyd McCurty, Tracy; Toering, Sara, eds. Heirs’ property and land fractionation: fostering stable ownership to prevent land loss and abandonment. June 15, 2017, Atlanta, GA. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-244. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station: 65-82.
  • Posted Date: February 16, 2021
  • Modified Date: February 18, 2022
  • Print Publications Are No Longer Available

    In an ongoing effort to be fiscally responsible, the Southern Research Station (SRS) will no longer produce and distribute hard copies of our publications. Many SRS publications are available at cost via the Government Printing Office (GPO). Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, printed, and distributed.

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.