A database of property tax records was used to locate and quantify the extent of heirs' property across 11 states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia). Based on previously published work, an index of four variables was then developed to estimate the likelihood that a given parcel was heirs’ property. The authors conservatively estimate that there are at least 496,994 parcels of heirs’ properties with a combined total area of 5.3 million acres and a market value of $41.9 billion in these states.


This is a 2023 accepted manuscript of an article to be published by the Journal of Rural Social Sciences, the official peer-reviewed publication of the Southern Rural Sociological Association. It is being released early for timely access. For future citations, please consult with the corresponding author (Ryan Thomson, rwt0012@auburn.edu) for the appropriate final reference.


Southern Rural Development Center

Publication Date


Spatial Coverage

Southern United States

Research Center

Southern Rural Development Center


big data, heirs' property, inheritance, land, poverty, race, tenure



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