Heir property and wills clinic will address legal problems for Craven County homeowners

Legal Aid of NC will host two free information sessions this month addressing the complex and often confusing issues of heir property, wills and advanced directives. 

During the presentation, representatives from Legal Aid of NC will present information about what heir property is and how having it can affect an owner’s property rights.

Individual one-on-one appointments with an attorney are available for those who would like the opportunity to discuss property issues or estate planning needs. 

The first session will be held on Jan. 20, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the James City Community Center, 410 Plum St. in New Bern.

The second session will be on Jan. 27, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Harlowe Community Center, 125 Godette School Road in Havelock.

Light refreshments will be served. 

For more information call 252-636-6600. 

Heir property is property passed to family members by inheritance, usually without a will or estate planning strategy. It is typically created when land is passed on from someone who dies without a will to those legally entitled to their property, such as a spouse, children or other relatives.

According to the Legal Aid of NC website, many organizations that provide free home repair assistance after a disaster require the resident to prove that they own their home before they can receive assistance. And while people who have inherited their property without a will are legal owners of the property, proving ownership may be challenging.

“They may need to prepare a family tree and verify whether other heirs who have died since inheriting the property had wills themselves,” the website states. “Some organizations may only provide assistance if all owners of the property, including all heirs, agree to the repairs.”

Anne Schout, chairman of the Duffyfield Phoenix Project, has pointed to complications with heir properties when trying to do local home repairs and demolitions. 

“We found out you can have a will but if you leave your house to all your children it’s the same thing as not having a will and all your children get it anyhow,” Schout said. “There was a house we worked on trying to get torn down a few years ago that had 52 heirs.”

By Todd Wetherington, co-editor. Send an email with questions or comments.