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University of Wisconsin-Madison

Heirs' property challenges families, states

WASHINGTON In Mount Pleasant, a suburb of Charleston on the South Carolina coast, 72-year-old Richard Mazyck only recently acquired the title to the land on which he's lived his entire life. The land once belonged to Mazyck's father, and when he died it was passed down to Richard and his four sisters and brothers. But the elder Mazyck did not have a will, leaving his African-American descendants with what is known as heirs' property. Without a deed, the heirs are unable to develop the land and are at risk of losing it entirely. This type of succession property passed without a will stems from the Reconstruction era, when African-Americans gained property rights. At that...

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