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Heir Property - Cotenants Are Necessary Parties

Darby v. Presley, [Ms. 2190403, Nov. 20, 2020], ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2020). The court (Hanson, J.; Thompson, P. J., and Moore and Donaldson, JJ., concur; Edwards, J., concurs in the result) reverses the Butler Circuit Court’s judgment declaring that a parcel of real property owned by the deceased Martha Jane Presley at her death was owned exclusively by Willie Presley, an heir of Martha Jane. The court notes that “the property is ‘heir property,’ meaning that the property is owned by the heirs of Martha Jane – presumably, in this case, the children of Martha Jane’s siblings and/or their descendants – as tenants in common. See § 35-6A-2(5), Ala. Code 1975 (defining ‘heirs property’).” Ms. *2. The court reverses because “the record establishes there are heirs of Martha Jane owning undivided interests in the property that were not made parties to this action. Given the nature of the claims at issue, which sought to decide the ownership of the property, all the tenants in common are necessary parties to be joined in this action if feasible. The record indicates that the trial court conducted no Rule 19 necessary party/indispensable-party analysis in this case. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the case is remanded with instructions for the trial court to determine whether the absent tenants in common can be identified and feasibly joined in the action; to determine, if that identification and joinder cannot take place, whether the action can properly proceed in the absence of the absent tenants in common; and to conduct other proceedings consistent with this opinion.” Ms. **16-17.

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