United Way program helps heirs of property avoid losing their real estate

Organizers with the United Way of NELA are continuing their heirship program to help individuals who inherit property avoid losing the real estate.
Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 10:42 PM CDT
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OUACHITA PARISH, La. (KNOE) - Organizers with the United Way of Northeast Louisiana are continuing their heirship program to help individuals who inherit property avoid losing the real estate.

When a family member passes away and real estate is left to the next of kin, there are certain steps that need to be taken to ensure a proper transfer of property, but some people may not be aware of what those steps are.

United Way’s heirship program is there to help people learn the process. Michelle Saucer, community impact director with United Way said she wants people to know it can become a serious issue.

“Over the past couple of years, we had a few disasters in our community,” Saucier said. “And what we noticed is after the disaster, there is a point when a family needs assistance with getting their homes repaired. And some of our families did not have clear title to their property.”

Not properly transferring the real estate to an heir can create roadblocks to receiving aid.

“You can’t get qualified for FEMA dollars. You can’t qualify to get your home with insurance and things of that nature to protect your property,” Saucer explained.

Last year, Wesley Johnson, owner of E & P Consulting Services, noticed there were many lost properties. She said that they were noticed as some tax certificates were not sold and the taxes were not being paid. Her firm started wondering what was happening to these properties.

“Why in the world, how does a property get lost? It’s not a flip flop at the beach,” Johnson asked.

They explained that the main issue was education and fear of losing their home. Johnson explained that the process is easy.

“The state of Louisiana has a process by which they can easily and inexpensively transfer ownership to the heirs. It’s so critical that we just take care of what was left to us by our ancestors,” Johnson said.

This can help the community as a whole in preventing other issues by “preventing blight, preventing abandoned properties,” Johnson said. “So, it’s good for all of us.”

The United Way of Northeast Louisiana is looking for volunteers to help teach people the process to update ownership.

The first class for teachers and for heirs is on August 4, 2022, at the United Way of NELA office in Monroe. Five more classes are scheduled with ones in Bastrop and Ruston.

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