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Traveling Free Will-Writing Clinic and Heirs' Property Information Session

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Through a collaboration with the Cooperative Extension Services of the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University, as well Childers & Baxter PLLC, LiKEN is organizing a series of Free Will-Writing Clinics and Heirs' Property Information Sessions in seven eastern Kentucky counties in the spring, summer, and fall of 2024. The clinics gives participants the opportunity to sit down with a lawyer to write a will for absolutely no cost and learn about heirs' property. By bringing lawyers to underserved communities and offering will-writing services for free, we aim to prevent the further proliferation of heirs' property and to connect community members with attorneys in their area. 

The following clinics are planned in 2024:

  • March 1 - Harlan County, KY - 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

  • May 8 - Martin County, KY - 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

  • June 13 - Leslie County, KY - 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

  • July 18 - Johnson County, KY - 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

  • August 8 - Breathitt County, KY - 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

  • September 17 - Harlan County, KY - 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

  • October 9 - Perry County, KY - 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

  • November 19 - Floyd County, KY - 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Eastern Kentucky both has a dearth of accessible estate planning services and a long history of property disputes that stem, in large part, from inadequate estate planning. Heirs' property, for instance, is typically created when people pass away intestate, or without a will. Without a will that clearly defines who inherits the land, the name on the deed remains that of the deceased owner, leaving the title to the property "clouded." This traveling free wills clinic program aims to address the chronic need for accessible legal services/information in the region and prevent both the creation of heirs' property and conflict over property rights. Moreover, the clinic and information session provides residents with an opportunity to start a conversation about heirs’ property in their community, the steps they can take to acquire clear title, and how the Appalachian Heirs Property Coalition can assist them along their title clearing journey.

As a final note, the lack of adequate estate planning in Eastern Kentucky is a direct product of the distrustful relationship between communities in the historic coalfields of Central Appalachia and lawyers, whose interests have often aligned with the energy, timbering, and real estate industries. An ongoing wills clinic program will introduce people to legal services providers — like our partners Baxter & Childers and AppalReD Legal Aid — who have earned a reputation as defenders of the land and people. Will clinics have the potential to cultivate positive relationships between people in historically-coal producing communities and legal service providers and that may be the first step towards healing the climate of distrust that has built up over the last century of resource exploitation. 

Community Engagement Coordinator McKensi Gilliam and Director of Land & Revenues Kevin Slovinsky standing at the welcome table at the Harlan County Free Will-Writing Clinic and Heirs' Property Information Session, March 2024

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