The Penn Center and Treasurer Announce Special Event

- Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Dr. Rodell Lawrence, Executive Director of The Penn Center, and Maria Walls, CPA, Beaufort County Treasurer will hold a special community forum about heirs’ property. The event will be held on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. in the Frissell Hall, located on the Penn Center campus at 6 Penn Center Circle West, St. Helena Island. Heirs’ property owners and interested members of the community are encouraged to attend. 

Heirs’ property is land and any associated dwellings that are jointly owned by descendants of a deceased individual whose estate was not handled in Probate Court. A descendant is defined as anyone related by blood. These descendants, or heirs’, have the right to use the property but do not have clear or marketable title to the property.

The forum will address issues that affect heirs’ property with a focus on the Beaufort County Delinquent Tax Sale and deed or title issues. Treasurer Walls will be presenting an overview of the tax sale process and discussing misconceptions about heirs’ property in the tax sale. The Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation will discuss common deed issues for heirs’ property and the resources available to obtain a clear title.

For over one hundred and fifty years, the Penn Center has been at the epicenter of African American education and historic preservation. To combat the threat of land loss along the Gullah Geechee coastal communities, the Penn Center established the Land Use and Environmental Education Program (LUEE) to assist native islanders with issues of land retention and stewardship through education and legal services.

The mission of Penn Center is “To Promote & Preserve the History and Culture of the Sea Islands”. Dr. Lawrence stated “my vision for Penn Center is to insure our sustainability and relevance to the people of the St. Helena Island community”.

The mission of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation is to protect heirs’ property and promote the sustainable use of land to provide increased economic benefit to historically under-served families through legal and forestry education and services.

“The Center’s combined work is helping families keep their land and begin to build wealth to pass on to the next generation,” said Attorney Watson. “But the first step must be the resolution of any heirs’ property issues on the land. Only then can these families benefit fully from the forestry program and realize more income from it. Ultimately, this work is providing one pathway out of persistent poverty in South Carolina.”  

Since joining the Treasurer’s Office in 2011, Treasurer Walls has put transparency and public education at the forefront of her administration through proactive communication and extensive online resources and data.

“The pursuit of delinquent taxes is my responsibility but my staff and I are still public servants and I want people to know we care about our community and the people in it,” said Treasurer Walls. “The tax sale process is often misunderstood and, in the past, was not carried out in the transparent manner that it should have been. If someone has to go through this process, I want them to have every resource possible, available to them so they can make the best decision for themselves and their property.”

For more information on the Penn Center and the LUEE Program, please visit For more information about the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, please visit For more information about the Treasurer’s Office and the Delinquent Tax Sale, please visit

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