Owner deceased, Tax certificate sale

9 Replies

I’m considering my first potential tax certificate purchase. The owner passed in 2015. The first year taxes were not paid was 2018 and it went to sale and is with the state. The deed shows no survivorship rights, he was unmarried. 

A son likely exists in another state, based on obituaries.  Someone is also cutting the grass, it’s not manicured, but enough to keep the city happy I guess.   There are cars in the driveway that haven’t moved in ages. We feel like it probably still has his possessions inside the house.

The tax information online shows the name of the deceased owner. It looks like the notices aren’t going to the son. 

Q1... Would this be a scenario of a void tax sale? Or, would he have had to have passed between 10/1/18 and the tax sale for it to be void? 

Q2...If the tax card showed “in care of” the sons’ name and his name was called, would that be a valid sale? 

Q3...If I purchase the tax certificate, Will I notify the son of our lien and maybe do a rental agreement with him while he either redeems or gets the house cleared out, since it appears the house may not be empty? 

Q4... I understand we have possession rights, but we can’t just burst in there and change locks without notification, right?  

1. This would not void the tax sale. They send them to the best known address.

2. Would be a valid sale. The son would be responsible for paying the taxes and updating his address.

3.That is up to you. You can try and get son to sell you the house after completing probate or just let it run its course and get the tax deed.

4. Don't know what state you are talking about. My state is simple, 12 months later I get the deed in the mail and can enter the property at that time. Other states like AL are very complicated with multiple years of seperate liens and  having to file paperwork etc.

I can’t tag Denise Evans, our expert on Al tax liens.  This will also be County specific in  AL I believe, as apparently some counties do it differently.  But, I believe in the counties where they sell actual tax Certificates, a Certificate gives you No possession rights whatsoever......all you do is collect interest when the certificate is redeemed. Make sure you using the Correct terminology....a tax Deed is a completely different animal.

I will go to the local title company talk it over involving a lawyer etc. Title company carries an insurance that will pay for errors. You receive a bad advice the stakes are too high.

Thanks, properties I’m looking at are in Jefferson county, Alabama. I’m trying to learn the difference between the two.  The property in question is a tax lien certificate. Only one year is showing not paid, but I suppose someone else could have paid prior years. But, if I pay this year will the tax notice come to me next year or so I just have to remember to pay it or wait for it to come up on the sale again. Sorry, I’m new and reading and researching everywhere. Planning to buy Denise’s book today!

Hi @Karen Kilgore , only because it's Jefferson County, it is not void. Otherwise it would have been.

Jefferson County is not yet doing lien auctions, they are still doing the old fashioned certificate auctions that include possessory rights  and a tax deed three years later.

If the grass is being cut, the property is not abandoned. With a tax certificate, you must give written notice to surrender possession, and then wait six months until you file for ejectment. Just going in and changing locks and taking over is very dangerous, legally, because that might not be peaceable possession unless the property was abandoned. Vacant and neglected, even for a long time, is not the same thing as legally abandoned.

If the owner died with no spouse and no will, then his children will be his heirs. Was there more than just the son listed in the obituary? Have you checked with the probate court to see if an estate was opened and probate administered?

Checked in with the state. They are waiting on information from Jeff county to prepare my bid. Turns out property being cut is a right of way along the side that joins the property. It isn’t the property in question. However, the power is on at this house, or the doorbell still works anyway.  Haven’t located the son that was listed in the obituary.  Any suggestions? Should I mail a certified letter to the property? There are abandoned cars in the driveway, no current tags. The house appears pretty empty. If I purchase the certificate, can I enter the property? I’m sure it’s locked. 

So, still waiting on a quote from the state. I mailed a letter to the home and it was returned it to me with vacant, unable to forward, no forwarding address on it. So, I think the house is fairly empty. There is junk on the screened in porch and in the garage. I guess I’ll send the ejectment notice certified mail if my bid is accepted? My original letter had a request for info to locate the owner or next of kin. It was not sent certified. It will come back the same, I would assume. Can I then take possession?  I would move and store the items left and take possession? I haven’t found any probate or documents after the transfer from the grandfather to the son. I am still attempting to locate the grandson. He is possibly in Georgia. Stay tuned.... feel free to send advice!