By Brianna Bogan
It’s not an overstatement to say I love my job at the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that protects heirs’ property and promotes its sustainable use to provide increased economic benefit to historically under-served families. My job takes me in any number of directions on any given day. The diversity of projects, as well as the diversity of landowners I get to meet motivates me, and gives me a profound sense of satisfaction, both personal and professional. Each landowner family we work with at the Center has their own story, their own history, and of course, their own goals for their land.
One of these families is the Hudson family. In March 2019, Denis Hudson and his sister Darlene (Hudson) Gaffney came to the Center for help in dividing their family’s property. After their free one-hour consultation with a staff attorney, Mr. Hudson and Ms. Gaffney understood that they must first clear the title to the land before subdividing the property. What the siblings discovered is key to successfully resolving heirs’ property issues: the family must agree about the future use or purpose of the property and establish clear ownership rights.
Because this can be an intimidating process, CHPP’s legal team offers Family Presentation, a tool tailored to the specific needs of each family. Along with Mr. Hudson and Ms. Gaffney, the Center worked diligently in gaining the family’s cooperation and agreement, then in clearing the title. And, while pursing the legal actions necessary to clear the title, Mr. Hudson was inspired to complete his own estate plan. With his proactive approach, he has ensured that his heirs will not have to wrestle with legal challenges to their inheritance.
After signing the estate planning document, Mr. Hudson said, “Thanks to the Center! It was such a relief to finally get our family affairs in order.” And, by taking the lead on clearing the title, Mr. Hudson has helped to made estate planning a family affair, as the Center is now helping his relatives with their wills and estate planning.
Do you have heirs’ property in your family? Do you have a will? Call CHPP and schedule an appointment with our legal department. We can work with you directly or put you in touch with one of our network partners depending on where your land is. Let your legacy be the protection and preservation of your family’s land for generations to come. CHPP is a part of the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention (SFLR) Network of sites helping African American landowners ensure their land is an asset they can keep in the family and pass down to future generations.
Ms. Brianna Bogan, Esq. is Director of Legal Services and a member of the Leadership Team at CHPP. Before coming to CHPP in 2019, she held positions at Motley Rice and Kuhn & Kuhn. Brianna received her BA from the University of Georgia and her JD from the Charleston School of Law.