Pursuing Equity: Changing State Law to Protect Generational Wealth of African-American and Other Disadvantaged Families

February 05, 2021

Gilbert LLP partner Richard Shore recently spoke on a panel sponsored by the Estate & Trust Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association about the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act. The UPHPA is designed to help preserve family wealth passed down from generation to generation by limiting the ability of real estate speculators to use partition actions to acquire family-owned property at well below fair market value. This tactic particularly, although not exclusively, affects African-American families. Richard’s co-panelists included Professor Thomas Mitchell of Texas A&M University School of Law and Jennifer Goode, founding partner at Birchstone Moore LLC. Professor Mitchell is the principal drafter of the UPHPA and was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (aka, a “Genius Grant”) last year for his decades-long work reforming laws and developing policy solutions addressing mechanisms by which African-American and other disadvantaged families have been deprived of their land, homes, and real estate wealth. Jennifer Goode is a trusts and estates lawyer in Maryland with a long-term interest in combating the racial wealth gap through changes to probate and intestacy laws.

Gilbert LLP is working with Professor Mitchell to assemble coalitions to pursue UPHPA-modeled legislation in Washington, DC, and Maryland. This project grew out of Richard’s work last year on the Equity Committee of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s ReOpen DC Advisory Group.

Gilbert LLP is a Washington-based law firm specializing in litigation and strategic risk management, insurance recovery and complex dispute resolution.