Every real estate action has the potential to be much more complicated than people realize. This is because when it comes to buying, selling, developing and otherwise acquiring land, there isn’t just money at stake; there can also be considerable emotional attachment to land that further complicates matters.
For instance, recently, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg found himself in a particularly tricky situation when he filed numerous quiet title actions in the state of Hawaii. What might have been a fairly routine legal action wound up involving more than 100 people and hundreds of acres of land.
According to reports, Zuckerberg wanted to protect his ownership of the 700-acre property he purchased about two years ago. To do this, he would have to secure quiet title actions against more than 100 people with a claim to parcels on his property.
For generations, the land in question has been handed down to heirs of tenant farmers. However, in some cases, people don’t even know they inherited land, which may only be a few square feet by the time it is actually portioned out to the appropriate descendants.
In order for Zuckerberg to solidify his ownership of the property, he had to identify the owners and purchase the land, thereby quieting any claim another owner may have to it. This is why he filed the eight lawsuits.
However, the legal action created a huge response from the community and heirs, who argued that the land is about much more than dollar signs. They say it is about the history of the land and the native beliefs that the land is not for just one person to own.
After such vocal backlash, Zuckerberg agreed to drop his lawsuits and work with members of the community and the heirs to figure out a different solution.
While this case took place in another state, it sends an important message to people all across Wisconsin who find themselves dealing with land ownership challenges: There may be more than money at stake. Under these circumstances, you can work with an attorney to figure out a solution that protects you and your land without destroying community relationships.