Heirs’ property is collectively-owned land that has passed through successive generations of families in which the heirs all have undivided interests. Absent unanimous agreement, heirs cannot make property decisions, with the consequence that significant collective-action problems and family disputes can cause heirs’ property to be lost through tax foreclosure or forced sales after court proceedings. Can a process be designed and implemented for mediating such family disputes and salvaging heirs’ property?
In this clinical project, HNMCP is working with the Heirs’ Property Retention Coalition (HPRC), an organization which combines the efforts of nonprofit organizations involved in litigation, advocacy, and scholarship to protect the low-wealth and minority owners of “heirs’ property” against land loss. HNMCP students are working to organize and conduct a mediation of an heirs’ property dispute for a North Carolina family.
Step 1: Research on the heirs’ property problem generally, the specific property that is the subject of the dispute and the family history and dynamic .
Step 2: Contact and interviews with the family members to assess interests and obtain buy-in for the mediation process.
Step 3: Organization and conduct of a mediation session with the stakeholders/family members to help resolve the issue of property use and maintenance.
A mediation session resulting in an agreement meeting the interest of all the family members regarding the use and maintenance of the heir’s property.