A History of Georgia Appleseed and The Georgia Heirs Property Law Center

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Those interested in receiving direct legal services from the new Georgia Heirs Property Law Center ("the Center") are advised that the current priority for cases can be found on the Center's website at: www.gaheirsproperty.org. Potential clients must meet certain criteria to receive the Center's services. To determine if your case is eligible for representation please contact the Center at 706-424-7557 x. 1 or info@gaheirsproperty.org.

With leadership from its Young Professionals Council, Georgia Appleseed has brought statewide attention to Heirs Property, alerting lawmakers, public officials, and practitioners that this unstable form of landownership is a critical obstacle to economic security for families and communities throughout the state. From 2008 through 2016, Georgia Appleseed facilitated research and advocacy that resulted in legislative change and a direct services strategy to address the inequities associated with Heirs Property in Georgia and beyond.

Research: Georgia Appleseed harnessed the collective time and expertise of over 250 volunteers---mostly attorneys and other professionals---to complete a massive research project to quantitatively assess the impact of Heirs Property in Georgia. By analyzing data gleaned from the on-line real estate tax databases covering 20 Georgia counties (Round One) and conducting a more detailed assessment of Superior Court land records in five counties (Round Two) in 2013; Georgia Appleseed confirmed the magnitude of the problem but also revealed the magnitude of the opportunity: Heirs property in Georgia, including in many of its poorest counties, represents assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The opportunity lies in “unlocking” those assets for the benefit of the landowners and the low-wealth communities in which many of the heirs property owners live. See the report here.

Legislative Advocacy: Armed with research showing the effects of heirs property on families and communities in the state, Georgia Appleseed sought a powerful legislative solution to slow down land loss resulting from forced partition sales. The Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act, a central component in Georgia Appleseed’s overarching strategy for increasing justice for low and moderate income owners of heirs property, was signed into law on April 16, 2012, making Georgia the first state in the South and the second state in the nation to pass a uniform partition bill. This legislation enjoyed unanimous support in both houses of Georgia’s General Assembly. View background on the Act here.

Direct Legal Services: Recognizing the need for prevention, education, and remediation of heirs property, Georgia Appleseed spearheaded the creation of the Georgia Heirs Property Law Center, Inc. (“the Center”), a non-profit law firm providing direct legal services to heirs property owners. The Center, which was formed on May 7, 2015, is independent of Georgia Appleseed and provides direct legal services to individuals, municipalities, and other non profits throughout Georgia. To find out about representation and the work of the Georgia Heirs Property Law Center, Inc. please visit their website at www.gaheirsproperty.org; or call the Center at 706-424-7557.