Client Story

Clear Title = Economic Opportunity

Posted On April 24, 2018

Johnnie Mae wanted to cut the timber on her land. She joined the Center’s Sustainable Forestry Program (SF) where she found out that she couldn’t cut her trees and be paid for them until she legally probated her mother’s estate.

It was heirs’ property, and the lumber company needed to know who owned the land and to whom the money would be paid before they would cut any timber.

Various family members had different ideas about what they wanted to do with the land. Some wanted income right away from clear-cutting all the trees, regardless of what was on growing on the land. Others wanted to develop a plan for long term, sustainable management of their forest.

Center Attorney Josh Walden arranged a “Family Presentation” for Johnnie Mae’s family. This is an education seminar which is tailored to the specific needs of a family – to help them reach family agreement.

One of the Center’s foresters also met with the family and provided the forestry information they needed to make the best decision about what to do with their land.

Ultimately, the estate was completed and Deeds of Distribution recorded, adhering to a Private Settlement Agreement reached by the family. The heirs are now in the process of acquiring a partition survey on the larger tract of land as well as exploring their options to sell/manage timber.

“The Center was a great help to us and took away the headache if we’d gone another route,” Johnnie Mae said.  “Everyone at the Center made us all feel comfortable. Any time I called to ask a question to better understand something, they would walk us through it. It’s just been a smooth journey.”

Remember – All heirs have the right to full use and benefit of their family land. If trees are cut, every heir has the right to receive his/her percentage of the profit.