Keeping land in the family

by Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan and Parker C. Agelasto

As Virginia and America continue the long overdue work of addressing structural inequity, our Commonwealth has taken one significant step toward fixing a leading cause of loss of land and wealth for African-Americans.

This week in Rockingham County, Gov. Ralph S. Northam formally signed a new, bipartisan law to help families that own heirs’ property.

Heirs’ property refers to land that has been passed down informally from generation to generation. In most cases, it involves landowners who died without a will or failed to probate a will within the state’s timeframe and the land is owned “in common” by all of the heirs, regardless of whether they live on the land, pay taxes or have ever set foot on the land.