Unpaid Taxes and Owner Passed Away

10 Replies


I want to make sure I have no other options. There's a vacant lot that has had taxes unpaid for at least 7 years. Value wise I'm not concerned at this point. The problem is that the owner passed away years ago. She had multiple kids and her kids have since had kids. I spoke to one of owner's grandkid which was originally helping pay the taxes and maintaining the lot. She mentioned she does not want to deal with the family because of past issues and no one is willing to sit and discuss the sale of the land. Something to that effect. 

Is the only solution to go to probate? Which if I'm not mistaken could cost thousands and take a lot of time. Or maybe adverse possession, but then I run the risk of someone coming back to claim the land?

Other than that, the property will just continue to go to the tax certificate sale every year, until someone actually sends it to auction, correct? I don't think any of the investor really care for the land bc it's small and so much is owed in back taxes. But I have family members in the area and would like to utilize that land for something. 

Please help.

Thank you for taking the time to read  :)


@Lisa Jones unless and until the title is transferred to the heirs you always have to go through the estate to buy property from someone who is deceased. If no estate has been set up than one needs to be opened. Then you still have to deal with the heirs to get them to agree to sell.

      the property will just continue to go to the tax certificate sale every
year, until someone actually sends it to auction, correct?

Well the exact process depends on the state. Generally "the tax certificate sale" IS an auction. This is generally going to be the most practical way to acquire the property in this situation. However if the property is desirable there will be competition at the auction. At the very least you have to wait until it goes to auction which could be years depending on the state.

IF the property already has gone to auction and someone has bought a tax deed or tax lien, potentially you could buy the deed or lien from them.

Yes adverse possession is a possibility but that can have problems itself. In Maryland it takes 20 years to claim adverse possession.  Good luck.

Lisa, what state is the property in? In California, the State would foreclose on the property and it would go to auction. I have purchased several properties at tax foreclosure auctions, but, each State does it differently. I would look up county tax records and send a letter to the mailing address shown letting them know that you would like to purchase it. Perhaps you could also contact your local Title Company and see if they could help.

@Lisa Jones I have a lot of experience in Florida doing what you're attempting to do, buy the property before the tax deed sale happens. Unfortunately, the property would need to go through probate and then each heir would need to agree to sell it to you, and this would need to happen before the tax deed sale. It sounds like from your conversation with the granddaughter that the family already doesn't get along, I can almost guarantee that there will be at least one family member who won't agree to sell, no matter how good your offer is. 

@Braden C.

Thanks Braden. Yeah from my convo with her, I was thinking that as well. She pretty much said they’re being difficult and it’s all about greed :(

I’m liking and really getting into this tax deed stuff. I have some properties I’m looking into right now that are already scheduled to go to auction though. Just verifying if all is in order to hopefully do my first bid and cross my fingers that it all goes well :) Would love to reach out to you in the future (if that’s okay?) and maybe work on something together to learn from your experience. And I can also help you if you’re looking to branch out to the Orlando area.

If you want good and marketable title in the property now, multiple probates are likely. 

Another possibility is to have ALL potential heirs sign special warranty deeds over to you per F.S. 95.22 and in 7 years you may have insurable title but not before. This is a risky proposition in the event you miss one of the heirs along the way. I've only done this when inheritance is clear. I realize this requires that all heirs cooperate but it's a possible option to avoid probate - though admittedly not a great one. 

Good luck.