The Fellows Class Project Series is a way for new Fellows to become involved and be a part of the LBF mission.
2022 Fellows Class Project
Estate Planning for Low-Income Communities: A Focus Group
Family properties passed informally through generations by possession without recordation results in deeply fractionated ownership interests in property. When a family member dies without a will, ownership of immovable property passes to the heirs. A family must file a judgment with the court and consider consolidating ownership of the property. Without a judgment and consolidation of ownership, properties passed informally become deeply fractionated across a multitude of heirs and subject to a forced sale from any heir, regardless of where they live.
Fractionated ownership regimes are highly susceptible to sheriff fire sales. Co-owners can force a sheriff’s sale resulting in a sale for a fraction of the market value. What may have started as a $100,000 inheritance from a great grandmother in 1890 can easily become subject to a $10,000 forced sheriff’s sale with proceeds split across multiple family members. This process ensures the loss of valuable emotional and financial generational wealth in low-income families.
Heir’s property regimes encourage blight and abandonment due to the ineligibility of funds for repairs. Moreover, these regimes bolster an environment in which unfair buyouts by scrupulous investors and developers reduce family land wealth to pennies on the dollar. Louisiana Appleseed is working legislatively to change these regimes, but more must be done.
The Louisiana Bar Foundation Fellows Class of 2022 will work with Louisiana Appleseed and its current volunteers to provide substantive feedback on a new community education guide for estate planning in Louisiana focusing on the needs of low-income communities. Fellows will receive and review a first draft of the guide. The guide will be modeled after a similar guide produced by the Georgia Heirs’ Property Law Center. Fellows will then gather in person for a focus group to discuss the contents and opportunities for improvement.
This project will complement the work of the Louisiana Bar Foundation and hopefully, with the help of the Fellows Class, we will get one step closer to empowering low-income and marginalized members of our community to take the first steps in protecting their assets.
The Louisiana Bar Foundation Fellows Class of 2021 will work with Louisiana Appleseed and its current volunteers to provide substantive feedback on a new community education guide for estate planning in Louisiana focusing on the needs of low-income communities. Heirs’ property is property passed from one generation to the next informally. This is a very unstable type of ownership that tends to be a precursor to blight, abandonment, and land loss amongst land-rich/cash-poor owners. Louisiana Appleseed has connected countless families to legal aid services in times of disaster and is developing community education materials on the topic in a multi-unit estate planning guide. This year, we are asking for help from the LBF Fellows to review the heirs’ property section of the guide and give feedback. The following outlines your commitment in this endeavor.
2020 Fellows Class Project
The Connecting Legal Needs to Education Project will educate the Fellows Class about many of the unrealized legal needs of Louisiana’s low-income and under-served communities and the efforts being made to find actionable information and resources to provide to those falling within this “Justice Gap”. We will highlight the Civil Legal Navigator, an online portal that uses artificial intelligence and curated experiences to direct users to diagnose whether they have a legal problem and if so, how to find help. Through this project, the Fellows will work closely with Louisiana Appleseed and Lagniappe Law Lab to expand a content library which will help educate people on their legal issues and refer them to the appropriate resource within the civil legal network; thereby improving accessibility, effectiveness, and efficiency of legal services in Louisiana.
This project will complement the work of the Louisiana Bar Foundation and hopefully with the help of the Fellows Class, we will get one step closer to empowering low-income and marginalized members of our community to take the first steps in addressing their most pressing legal needs.
2019 Fellows Class Project
The Fellows Class Project of 2019, in partnership with Louisiana Appleseed, focused on the Flight of the Legal Navigator Project. This project educated the Fellows Class about many of the unrealized legal needs of Louisiana’s low-income and under-served communities and the efforts being made to find actionable information and resources to provide to those falling within this “Justice Gap”.
2018 Fellows Class Project
The Fellows Class Project of 2018 focused on the Legal Service Corporations (LSC) Liaison Project. Given the vital importance of this issue, this Class Project topic is continuing for a second year in order to continue to raise awareness of the need for LSC funding throughout the state.
2017 Fellows Class Project
The Fellows Class Project of 2017 focused on the Legal Service Corporations (LSC) Liaison Project which educates communities throughout Louisiana about the importance of LSCs and how the recent decline in state and federal funding, in addition to Louisiana’s high poverty, place our already challenged civil legal aid system in crisis.
2016 Fellows Class Project
The Fellows Class Project of 2016 focused on Appleseed’s Clear Title Project. The Clear Title Project educates residents throughout Louisiana about how to preserve home ownership. Fellows helped provide law-related education to community members regarding how to transfer title to inherited property, properly and legally, and about how the lack of transfer can cause serious barriers to recovery after a disaster.
2015 Fellows Class Project
The Fellows Class Project of 2015 focused on educating Louisiana attorneys about the new “CLE credit for Pro Bono work” rule. The Fellows reached out to attorneys in their geographic areas to educate them about the new rule and to encourage them to take on pro bono cases.
2014 Fellows Class Project
The Fellows class of 2014 focused on researching the application of Louisiana’s In Forma Pauperis (IFP) laws to indigent case filings and developing strategies to ensure uniform application.
2013 Fellows Class Project
The Fellows class of 2013 focused on assisting individuals and communities with foreclosure and housing-related issues related to the National Mortgage Servicing Settlement.
2012 Fellows Class Project
The Fellows class of 2012 focused on heirship property and title clearing.
2011 Fellows Class Project
The Fellows class of 2011 focused on increasing community awareness about teen dating violence and the importance of prevention through education.
2010 Fellows Class Project
The Fellows class of 2010 focused on preserving homeownership through community outreach. The class attended community events and talked to homeowners about the importance of obtaining clear title to their property. Attendees were given a copy of Appleseed’s Protect Your Property: Heir Property in Louisiana, a homeowners guide to building wealth and protecting assets.
“Becoming a LBF Fellow and a member of the Class Project Series was a great opportunity for me to volunteer in a unique and rewarding way.” Hon. Marie A. Bookman (ret.)
“I thoroughly enjoyed helping educate our community about the importance of clear title and the resources available to them in our legal community.” Patricia A. Garcia
2009 Fellows Class Project
The Fellows class of 2009 focused on domestic violence.
2008 Fellows Class Project