SC Governor Signs Clementa C. Pinckney Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act

(September 26, 2016) -

Uniform Law Commission
111 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 1010, Chicago IL 60602
312/450-6600, www.uniformlaws.org

Contact:  Katie Robinson, ULC Communications Officer, krobinson@uniformlaws.org
                 Ben Orzeske, ULC Chief Counsel, borzeske@uniformlaws.org

For Immediate Release:

South Carolina Governor Haley Signs the “Clementa C. Pinckney
Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act” into Law

September 26, 2016 – On September 22, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley honored the memory of Senator Clementa C. Pinckney by signing a bill that was near and dear to his heart.  HB3325, the Clementa C. Pinckney Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act, will allow South Carolina families of modest means to protect their land from real estate speculators.

“Heirs property” is land that has been passed down through generations of the same family, often without any formal change of title.  Although the heirs may believe their inheritance is safe, heirs property is vulnerable to takeover by speculators who buy a single share from one of the heirs, and then file a partition action in court, usually forcing the rest of the family to sell their interests at prices below the true market value.  African-American families living in the low country of South Carolina have been hit especially hard, resulting in the cumulative loss of millions of dollars in family wealth.

HB3325 gives family members the right to buy out the interests of outside speculators.  If the family chooses to sell their property, the law requires an independent appraisal and an open-market sale to ensure the heirs receive a fair price. 

HB3325 is based on the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act, approved by the Uniform Law Commission in 2010 and enacted in eight states:  Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Ed Mullins, Jr. of Nelson Mullins and Clay Walker of Walker and Reihold represented South Carolina on the Uniform Law Commission in the passage of the bill.  Professor Thomas Mitchell now of Texas A&M University School of Law, reporter for the Uniform Act, was actively engaged in its promotion, as was Sue Berkowitz of S.C. Appleseed and Josh Walden of the Center for Heirs Property Preservation.  Representative James Smith (D), Senator Wes Hayes (R), and Gerald Mallory (D) led the passage in the House of Representative and the Senate respectfully.

HB3325 was renamed the Clementa C. Pinckney Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act in honor of the late pastor and Senator Clementa Pinckney, who was killed in the 2015 Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting in Charleston. 

The ULC, now in its 125th year, comprises more than 350 practicing lawyers, governmental lawyers, judges, law professors, and lawyer-legislators from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Commissioners are appointed by their states to draft and promote enactment of uniform laws that are designed to solve problems common to all the states.

After receiving the ULC’s seal of approval, a uniform act is officially promulgated for consideration by the states, and legislatures are urged to adopt it.  Since its inception in 1892, the ULC has been responsible for more than 200 acts, among them such bulwarks of state statutory law as the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Probate Code, the Uniform Partnership Act, and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.