With the passage of S.B. 499, Texas enacted the Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act (UPHPA). The new law is codified as Property Code chapter 23A. This uniform act aims to protect families who become cotenants of property through intestate succession from losing out on the real value of their land under standard property partition law.
The UPHPA was completed in 2010 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL). The purpose behind the legislation is described by the NCCUSL as follows:
The [UPHPA] helps preserve family wealth passed to the next generation in the form of real property. … For many lower- and middle-income families, the majority of the estate consists of real property. If the landowner dies intestate, the real estate passes to the landowner’s heirs as tenants-in-common under state law. Tenants-in-common are vulnerable because any individual tenant can force a partition. Too often, real estate speculators acquire a small share of heirs’ property in order to file a partition action and force a sale. Using this tactic, an investor can acquire the entire parcel for a price well below its fair market value and deplete a family’s inherited wealth in the process. UPHPA provides a series of simple due process protections: notice, appraisal, right of first refusal, and if the other co-tenants choose not to exercise their right and a sale is required, a commercially reasonable sale supervised by the court to ensure all parties receive their fair share of the proceeds.
Texas A&M School of Law professor Thomas W. Mitchell was an original drafter of the uniform law. Writing on the bill’s passage, Texas A&M Today interviewed Mitchell who spoke to the consequences of forced property sales in cases now subject to the UPHPA:
“What usually happens is that very few people participate as bidders at these public auctions and the sale is often at 50 percent or less of market value,” Mitchell said. “So the heirs’ property owners walk away with their property rights extinguished and their real estate wealth stripped away in the process.”
Mitchell’s research shows these exploitive practices disproportionately affect African-American families across the country, as well as Hispanic and Latino families in the southwest, white families in many different regions of the country, and others including some Native American families.
Texas becomes the tenth state to enact the UPHPA. It is already enacted in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and South Carolina. The UPHPA has been introduced as legislation in Mississippi, Missouri, and Washington, D.C.
Texas Property Code chapter 23A took effect September 1, 2017. O’Connor’s Texas Property Code Plus 2017-2018 includes the enacted code, conveniently accompanied by the relevant uniform code comments produced by the NCCUSL.
O’Connor’s Texas Property Code Plus 2017-2018 is now in stock—visit our online store to order your copy!
 S.B. 499, 85th Leg., R.S., eff. Sept. 1, 2017.
 Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (2010).
 Partition of Heirs Property Act, Unif. Law Comm’n, (last visited July 28, 2017).
 Sam Peshek, Texas A&M Law Professor’s Partition Law Reform Bill Becomes Law In Texas, Tex. A&M Today, May 31, 2017.
 Partition of Heirs Property Act.