Who We Are


The Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a mission to protect heirs’ property and promote its sustainable use to provide increased economic benefit to historically under-served families through legal education and services, and sustainable forestry education, technical assistance and resources.

The Center accomplishes its mission by providing these services to (1) low-income heirs’ property owners, (2) nonprofit organizations serving heirs’ property owners, (3) attorneys and judges handling heirs’ property cases, and (4) the community-at-large in Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, DorchesterGeorgetown and Jasper counties in South Carolina. The Center’s goal is to ensure that heirs’ property (HP) owners retain their family land and that both HP and non-HP landowners maximize the economic benefit from their forested acres (10-acre minimum).


The Center began as the “Heirs’ Project” at Coastal Community Foundation (CCF) with funding from the Ford Foundation in 2002 and input from heirs’ property (HP) owners, attorneys, judges, nonprofit service providers and funders on the design of the project.  At the time, CCF Senior Program Director Jennie Stephens served as project manager and became the Center’s Executive Director when it opened its doors in 2005 as an independent 501C-3 non-profit organization as the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation providing legal educational and direct legal services to low-income HP owners to help them obtain clear title and preserve their family land.

In 2013, the Center launched a pilot project – African American Land Retention and Sustainable Forestry Program (SFP) – with funding from the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities (USE) to provide 40 African American landowners (both HP and non-HP landowners) with the education, technical assistance (tools, professional connections and resources) to develop and implement long term, sustainable forestry management plans on their family land.

Although the SFP pilot project concludes in October 2015, its enormous success has led the Center to formally incorporate Sustainable Forestry (SF) into its work and has sought three more years of funding from the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities. (See results of SFP work at: Our Services – Sustainable Forestry.)


Our vision is to be nationally recognized as the most trusted and resourceful organization in providing effective education, legal services and sustainable land use options to help move low wealth landowners out of poverty.