The Gadsden County Housing Program hosted a housing fair and symposium on Saturday.
The event spanned from the Gadsden County Courthouse square to the Board of County Commissioners chambers, where the second annual Heir Property and Wills workshop was held.
The workshop featured discussions and presentations from panelists such as Director of the Mississippi Agricultural Mediation Program and Federation of Southern Cooperatives LyTanya Brown, Coordinator of the Land Assistance Fund’s Financial Literacy Training Marc Michael, and Gadsden County Property Appraiser Reginald Cunningham.
Several attorneys were also on the panel.
The workshop provided attendees with useful information on a variety of topics, including heir property, home buying, home inspections, home improvement programs, and more.
The United States Department of Agriculture defines heir property as family owned land that is jointly owned by descendants of a deceased person whose estate did not clear probate. The descendants, or heirs, have the right to use the property, but they do not have a clear or marketable title to the property since the estate issues remain unresolved. Land is passed down without a will or deed to prove ownership. Each successive generation generally results in more heirs being added to the land inheritance.
The Department of Agriculture has called heirs’ property “the leading cause of Black involuntary land loss,” and notes that it led to a 90 percent decline in black-owned farmland nationwide between 1910 and 1997.
Since 2007, black people who owned at least 10 million acres of land have lost up to 95 percent of it, Michael said.
Gadsden County’s chief planner Beau Scott explained why he informs the community about the importance of wills and property ownership.
“Since I’ve spent my entire life in Gadsden County, I believe I have a responsibility to protect my neighborhood,” Scott said. “Gadsden County residents have a ton of opportunities, and I don’t mind sharing. We provide details on purchasing land, finding affordable housing, and becoming a property owner.”
Contact gadsdencountyfl.gov for more information about Heirs Property.
Jade Vinson – Gadsden County News Service