MVLS Featured in The AFRO, “Commentary: Transferring generational wealth: Don’t leave it to the law”

Check out this new op-ed in the AFRO from MVLS’ Advanced Planning and Outreach Coordinator, Aisha Snead, and Nneka N’namdi who is the Founder and Executive Director of Fight Blight Bmore. She is also Executive Director of The SOS Fund. Estate Planning is family, continuity, and legacy planning. We cannot seriously discuss family stabilization or the building and passing of generational wealth, without estate planning as the cornerstone.

Maryland Bar Journal Volume 5 Issue 3: “Analyzing Violation of Probation Objections to Expungement After Abhishek I.” By George Townsend, and Allison Stillinghagan

In an article recently published by the Maryland Bar Journal, MVLS’ Workforce Development Attorney, George Townsend, and Human Trafficking Prevention Program Staff Attorney, Allison Stillinghagan, team-up to explain the Abhishek decision itself, pre-Abhishek case law relating to expungement eligibility, and the legislative history of expungement statutes, all of which support a narrow application of Abhishek to specific cases in which a sentence of probation after conviction was closed as “unsatisfied”.

Thome Aging Well Program from Enterprise Community Partners Announces $6 Million to MD and MI Non-Profits

MVLS is pleased to be a recipient of the Thome Aging Well Program from Enterprise Community Partners, and will use these critical funds to support financial health by providing 370 older adults who have low incomes with the legal ownership and estate planning documents needed to preserve and pass on wealth in historically disinvested neighborhoods in Baltimore and on the Eastern Shore.

Homeowners working with MVLS may be eligible for up to $2,500 to resolve tangled titles

For many people, their home is the single largest and most important asset in their family. The family home is not just a major economic resource that can help build wealth, it is often the emotional cornerstone of the family. If a homeowner raises a family in the home, there are going to be a lifetime of memories and it becomes extremely important that the home – and the memories – stay in the family for future generations. The best way to ensure this is through proper estate planning. 

Unfortunately, this estate planning doesn’t always happen. There are many instances where the homeowner has passed away without taking the needed steps to ensure that the home can be retitled in the current occupant’s name. This scenario is commonly known as a “tangled title.” A person has a tangled title issue when they are the occupant of a home and they have a legal interest in the home, but their name is not on the property’s deed. Without their name on the deed, housing assistance programs, tax credits, and repair grants are often inaccessible and the property becomes significantly more at risk to being lost through tax sale or mortgage foreclosure. It is imperative that this deed transfer happens as soon as possible.

However, in Maryland, it is currently required that there be a clean lien sheet to transfer title and record a new deed. A lien sheet lists all municipal bills due, including water bills, property taxes, and environmental/housing fines. The current homeowner must pay all existing municipal before the property can be transferred. The lien sheet requirement is particularly restrictive for MVLS clients who find themselves in tangled title situations due to the need to pay all existing liens on top of the probate costs. This barrier is often insurmountable. MVLS now has a Tangled Title Fund that clients can use to satisfy these liens in order to transfer title into their names. Clients can receive up to $2,500 in funding with the goal being that the client become the record owner of the property at issue at the end of the case.

For a full list of guidelines, please refer here.

To request funding, or for more information about the fund, please contact Tim Chance at tchance@mvlslaw.org.

2022 MLSC Rising Star Award Recipient, Tim Chance: Creating Impact, and Building Legacy Through Community and Housing Stabilization

On November 14, 2022, MVLS’ Tangled Title Attorney, Tim Chance and MVLS received recognition from the Maryland Legal Services Corporation for their work with the My Home, My Deed, My Legacy program. Chance, along with two other recipients, received the 2022 Rising Star Award, which is presented to an attorney who has practiced law for less than ten years and has significantly contributed to expanding access to justice by serving the civil legal needs of low-income Marylanders or advancing the delivery of civil legal services. Chance and the My Home, My Deed, My Legacy program are working to address the widening racial wealth gap in Maryland, and specifically Baltimore, through disentangling titles in Black communities.   

Due to the myriad of policies (such as redlining, blockbusting, and overassessment) that have led directly to the extraction of wealth in Black communities, estate planning and estate administration are two tools that MVLS has leaned on to keep families in their homes and wealth in their families. American society is controlled by systems which impact every aspect of life. Homeownership is one of the most critical generators of wealth building in this country and estate planning allows MVLS’ clients to protect that wealth and to pass that wealth down to future generations. Owning a home provides a family with a place to live, but also provides a stable mortgage payment so the family does not have to worry about rising rent costs. Also, there are significant tax deductions for homeowners that facilitate the accumulation of wealth.   

Unfortunately, due to the scourge of tangled titles in Baltimore, many Black families have lost or are at great risk of losing that wealth. That’s why the work to disentangle titles that is happening in the My Home, My Deed, My Legacy program is so important. MVLS has recently implemented some major changes to the program that will allow for even more to be done. MVLS is partnering with Fight Blight Bmore to determine the exact number of tangled titles in Baltimore and to do direct outreach to those households. Also, sometimes legal assistance is not enough to disentangle a deed. MVLS now has a limited Tangled Title Fund that will allow some clients to satisfy any outstanding municipal bills that may hinder the transfer of title. MVLS has been able to do so much good in the past few years in this effort, but so much more remains to be done.

My Home, My Deed, My Legacy Campaign Launched!

On April 1, MVLS, in collaboration with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), launched “My Home, My Deed, My Legacy”, a citywide public awareness program to educate Baltimore City residents – especially low-income residents – about the importance of estate planning and the critical need to confirm their name is on the deed to their property.

Thanks to a generous grant from Maryland DHCD, homeowners can access the online information hub or the homeowner hotline (443-451-4066) to learn more about estate planning and walk through the process on their own.

In addition to raising awareness of legal homeownership and the deed recording process, the “My Home, My Deed, My Legacy” campaign will educate and inform the public about the estate administration process, the importance of wills and health care directives, and steps to avoid probate.

MVLS will also offer three homeowner clinics:

  • June 18 | 3 – 7 pm
    • Arch Social Club, 2426 Pennsylvania Avenue, Baltimore
  • August 15 | 3 – 7 pm
    • 29th Street Community Center, 300 E 29th Street, Baltimore
  • October 3 | 3 – 7 pm
    • Southeast Anchor Library, 3601 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore

Pre-registration is required to attend. To register, visit www.myhomemydeed.org.   

Those who meet MVLS’s eligibility criteria can also contact our intake line (410-547-6537) or apply online at www.mvlslaw.org to request full attorney representation.

To learn more about this campaign or to see if your name is listed on the deed to your home, please visit www.myhomemydeed.org.