by Jeanine Ferguson
Did you know that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 80% of land owned by Black Americans has been lost since 1910? The major contributing factor to this tragedy is not having a will in place at death. Many homeowners don’t realize that if they die intestate (passaway without a will), their property may not go to their heirs. When a homeowner dies without a will, the state decides who inherits the homestead.
Dying Without a Will Causes Problems for Adult Heirs
Imagine a widowed homeowner with five adult children (who live all across the country) dies intestate. If one of the children has been living with the parent and taking care of them, do they have greater rights to the use and ownership of the land than those held by absent heirs?No. Adult heirs who don’t live on the land or don’t help to maintain the property have the same rights as heirs who live on the land and keep it up.
What if an heir has been paying property taxes and other assessments? Does it entitle that person to more complete ownership? No. Payment of taxes does not increase an heir’s percentage of ownership. Heirs who do not contribute to tax payments do not lose any rights to ownership.
These and many other issues can be addressed by having a valid will.
In an attempt to address this critical issue, Barbara English, Brenda Ezell, Esq. and Jeanine J. Ferguson sponsored a free educational workshop on Friday, May 13th at the Mary Singleton Senior Center.
A free event open to the public, the one day workshop included on the spot questions, estate advice, free legal wills and even lunch.
After the interactive presentation was made, the attendees had the opportunity to have individual personal questions addressed. Based upon the feedback received, the complimentary wills that were prepared and notarized on-site for each attendee was the most valuable part of the day.
Many of the attendees admitted that they had never given much thought to having a will prepared, or imagined that it would be too costly. Now they are one step closer to building a legacy of wealth for their families, and ensuring they have broken the chains of homestead loss.