Wells Fargo Foundation awards grant to N. Charleston-based nonprofit

Center for Heirs' Property Preservation - Logo (PRNewsfoto/Center for Heirs' Property...
Center for Heirs' Property Preservation - Logo (PRNewsfoto/Center for Heirs' Property Preservation,Mississippi Center for Justice,World Wildlife Fund,Kimberly-Clark Corporation)
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 2:25 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A North Charleston-based social services organization announced it has been awarded a large grant for over two years.

The Wells Fargo Foundation granted $300,000 to the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation to support its educational outreach and legal assistance to heirs’ property residents in South Carolina to help them keep their family land.

Heirs’ property is land passed down informally from generation to generation, often because landowners die without a will. In the absence of a will, the land is considered jointly owned by all heirs, split between multiple family members regardless of whether they have set foot on the land, lived on the property or paid the taxes.

“The Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation should be commended for bringing the issue of heirs’ property to the forefront, and we’re grateful to be a part of this effort to transform a system that often leads to loss of property, land and wealth for families of color,” Wells Fargo Foundation Senior Vice President Juan Austin says.

The center says they have been delivering legal education and legal services to heirs’ property owners for more than 18 years. They provide those services to counties across the state, including Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Dorchester counties.

“Property matters to people; it’s far more than just a parcel of land, it can be a window to the past that tells the story of a family, a community, or a way of life,” Dr. Jennie Stephens, CEO for the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, says. “We believe that with our proven expertise and with the help of our friends at Wells Fargo, we can help more families in SC protect their family land.”

To date, the center has resolved 340 title issues on land with a tax-assessed value of $20.7 million, according to a news release.