BusinessHoward Law School receives $500K grant to address heirs property issue

Howard Law School receives $500K grant to address heirs property issue

JPMorgan Chase Bank, in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, announced the funding of a $500,000 gift to the Howard University School of Law for a clinic designed to help people dealing with the issue of heirs property Tuesday.

Heirs property, also known as “tangled title” takes place when a homeowner dies without a will and several people gain rights to indivisible shares in the same home or piece of property or when an owner has a will that equally distributes the real estate among multiple descendants. Heirs property has been determined by housing experts to be one of the most unstable and insecure forms of real estate property ownership, greatly increasing the risk of property loss due to land speculation, property partition sales, or tax default.

“There are more than 440,000 heirs property parcels across the U.S.,” said Tim Berry, JPMorgan’s Global Head of Corporate Responsibility at the bank’s Skyland Town Center branch in Southeast in Ward 7. “That comes out to $1 billion in total estimated market value for heirs property parcels. In D.C., there are 66 heirs property parcels worth $300 million. Heirs property can determine the creation and preservation of generational wealth and is disproportionately found in Black, Latino, Hispanic, low-income, and low-wealth families in both rural and urban communities.”

To help solve the problem of heirs property in the District, Berry noted the $500,000 gift to Howard Law School’s Estate Planning and Heirs Property Legal Clinic.

“The Grant will provide support to help train the next generation of attorneys in this area of law and also support District of Columbia residents with free legal estate planning services through student-led clinics hosted at this branch.”

Berry indicated the next clinic session will occur on Nov. 3.

Michael Ralph, a scholar at Howard University’s Afro-American Studies Department and co-manager of a project that the estate planning law clinic falls under, thanked JPMorgan Chase and the foundation for their support.

“We not only thank you for the generous gift but the wealth and expertise,” he said.

Ralph said Blacks, as opposed to whites, tend to be prone to discriminatory credit scores and predatory lending due to their lack of knowledge of how the mortgage and homebuying process works.

“We have two attorneys that will work in the clinic with our students to help them assist clients,” he said, referring to Molefi McIntosh and Megan Wernke, who are employed by the law firm of Lowenstein & Sandler LLP and were hired to man the clinic. “We hope that the clinic not only helps clients but leads to policy changes and broadens the scope of research.”

Source: Washington Informer


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