Friday, July 16, 2010

New Uniform Law Protects Family Land

/PRNewswire/ -- The adoption yesterday of a proposed uniform state law aimed at preserving home ownership for vulnerable families nationwide marks a crucial step in helping low-wealth and minority communities retain their family property.

The Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act, drafted and approved by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), establishes a number important protections for owners of heirs property, family land that has been passed down without a will, restricting access to the land's value and leaving families vulnerable to unfair dispossession. The act will now be sent to all states for adoption.

"Once enacted, new state laws will not only protect family land, but help families with heir property qualify for credit and otherwise access the land's value," said Appleseed Executive Director Betsy Cavendish. "The act addresses the largest cause of black land loss in the South, and Appleseed applauds its adoption by the ULC."

Craig H. Baab, Appleseed's Heirs Property Project Director, served as an official observer to the ULC drafting committee and was heavily involved in developing the act over the past three years, and Appleseed Centers in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas are engaged in local efforts to address the problem through state legislation, attorney training and community education.

Among the protections adopted by the ULC are improved notification practices, broader judicial consideration - courts, for example, would consider how long a family has owned the land and whether that family would be rendered homeless if it were sold - and the establishment of priorities for buy-outs and physical divisions of the land before a forced sale would be permitted.

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