What is an "heir property owner?"
You are considered to be an heir property owner if you inherited your primary residence homestead by will, transfer on death deed, or intestacy, regardless of whether your ownership interest is recorded in the county’s real property records.
What is intestacy?
Intestacy is the legal process that governs who inherits a home when the homeowner dies without a will or transfer on death deed. With intestacy, the legal title to the deceased person’s home passes automatically to his or her children or other relatives under what’s called the laws of “intestate succession.” These laws determine who inherits the home and other assets, with the deceased person’s spouse and children typically first in line to inherit the home. These relatives automatically become the new owners upon the homeowners’ death.
If you have inherited your home via intestacy, it’s a best practice to file an affidavit of heirship in the county deed records where the property is located, but that is not required to apply for a homestead exemption. For guidance on the process of filing an affidavit of heirship, visit this site.
What are the homestead exemption application requirements for heir property owners?
If you are an heir property owner, in order to qualify for a homestead exemption you must designate on the homestead application form that you are an heir property owner. The Comptroller’s homestead exemption application form, Form 50-114, includes a question for this on page one of the form in "Section 3: Property Information."
Since many heir property owners do not have a deed in their name, an heir property owner is required to submit the following documentation to the appraisal district as proof of ownership when applying for a homestead exemption:
- a copy of the prior property owner's death certificate;
- a copy of the property's most recent utility bill;
- a citation of any court record relating to the applicant's ownership of the property (such as a probated will), if available; and
- an affidavit establishing the applicant’s ownership of interest in the property (see Form 50-114-A).
The affidavit that must be completed is located in the Comptroller’s Form 50-114-A and is called "Affidavit for Applicant Claiming an Ownership Interest of Property, Including Heir Property." In the affidavit, the heir property owner swears before a notary that he or she is the owner of the property identified in the homestead exemption application. Appraisal districts can no longer require heir property owners to provide a copy of a deed or an affidavit of heirship recorded in the real property records.
What is the homestead exemption application process when there are multiple heirs?
Only one heir property owner can submit a homestead exemption application for the property. If you are an heir property owner and have relatives who also inherited the property AND also occupy the property as their principal residence, those relatives must provide an affidavit that authorizes you to submit the application. The Comptroller has created a simple affidavit for this in Form 50-114-A. See the section titled "Affidavit for Owner Other Than the Applicant that Occupies Heir Property as Principal Residence."
As of 2020, heir property owners can now access 100% of the homestead exemption and related tax protections on their homestead, even when there are co-owners of the property. Prior to 2020, heir property owners could only access a portion of the homestead exemption if there were other heirs. If you are currently receiving only a partial homestead exemption and are an heir property owner, in order to qualify for 100% of the exemption, you must submit an updated exemption application with the appraisal district designating the property as heir property. You should submit both Form 50-114 and Form 50-114-A.