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Heirs property is a highly unstable form of land ownership resulting from intestacy that grants full ownership rights to all cotenants, regardless of the size of one's fractional interest. This form of land ownership is particularly vulnerable to partition because any use of the parcel requires consensus among all cotenants, which can be difficult given that many heirs do not live on the land and are frequently unaware of their fractional ownership. The Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (the UPHPA) was drafted to address heirs property ownership and the difficulties it presents. The Act has been recommended for enactment in all states, and as of February 2021, has been enacted in seventeen states. This Note argues that the legislation falls short of protecting the interests of those who are land-rich but cash-poor and whose single greatest asset is their fractional interest in heirs property. This Note critiques the Act by rooting its shortcomings in the drafters' decision to normalize the property ownership characteristics of those of higher socioeconomic statuses. The UPHPA fails to support heirs property owners because it treats the "wealthy and legally savvy" as the norm for property owners in the United States, which is inherently in conflict with the socioeconomic realities of most heirs property owners. This Note proposes amendments to the UPHPA that reflect the ownership characteristics of the average heirs property owner rather than those of the "wealthy and legally savvy."
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