The ACTEC Foundation Announces Support for The Commons Law Center

Oct 27, 2020 | News

ACTEC Foundation Supports Development of Portland Homeownership Asset Preservation Program to Assist Underserved Communities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    

Contact: Pamela GoldsmithPam.goldsmith@actec.org202.702.2655

Washington, DC – October 27, 2020: The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) Foundation today announced its support of the Commons Law Center, providing a $23,000 grant for the purpose of leveraging estate planning for Oregon’s communities of color and low-income communities experiencing displacement.

The grant is specifically targeted to help advance the Commons’ Homeownership Asset Preservation Program by funding a position for a recent law school graduate to work on a half-time basis for eight months as a legal resident. The program will enable Portland’s African American communities, many of which live at or below 400 percent of the federal poverty level, to obtain culturally specific, affordable or no-cost estate planning services as a means to help preserve homeownership assets. The project was instituted as a partnership with Portland’s African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH), a HUD-certified nonprofit aimed at increasing homeownership and economic stability for African Americans and other underserved individuals by improving access to home-buyer resources and education.

Commons attorney and Executive Director Amanda Caffall sees the program as a tool to help dismantle systemic oppression and mitigate decades of policies that gentrified the region, from redlining to annexation. “The racial homeownership gap is wide, yet some Black and Brown Americans managed to buy homes despite all those discriminatory policies,” said Caffall. “We know there’s an extraordinary opportunity, using simple tools, to conduct outreach and education that will help people preserve the wealth they’ve managed to create despite all possible obstacles.”

The Commons’ strategic plan for the project includes active participation by local lawyers in mentoring, including ACTEC Fellow volunteers, and the encouragement of future legal residents to engage with the Oregon State Bar’s Estate Planning and Administration Section and the ABA’s Real Property Trust and Estate Section (RPTE), with the ultimate goal of creating a pipeline of multiple lawyers who will serve the African American community and the Oregon Bar as practicing estate planning attorneys. The Commons considers what is being accomplished through the grant to be a model for other similar urban areas of the country challenged with gentrification, where lawyers of color are eager to assist their communities.

ACTEC Board President Jeffrey Thede said, “The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel Foundation is proud to support the important work of the Commons Law Center to expand estate planning services to the African American community in North and Northeast Portland while growing the pipeline of estate planning lawyers of color. We look forward to their success.”

The ACTEC Foundation’s support of professional development and education in trust and estate law through its grants continues to assist lawyers in their practice, law students and scholars with an interest in the trust and estate field so they may provide better service to the public. Further information about ACTEC Foundation grants can be found here.

About The ACTEC Foundation:  The ACTEC Foundation is the philanthropic arm of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel or ACTEC. The Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) that offers education to families and professionals and supports students interested in the trust and estate area of the law. Through continued financial support, The ACTEC Foundation offers professional development, scholarships and education for a number of important efforts, including legal education, educational support, public initiatives, legal publications and the student editorial board.

About The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC)Established in 1949, The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) is a national, nonprofit association of approximately 2,500 lawyers and law professors from throughout the United States and abroad. ACTEC members (Fellows) are peer-elected on the basis of professional reputation and expertise in the preparation of wills and trusts, estate planning, probate, trust administration and related practice areas. The College’s mission includes the improvement and reform of probate, trust and tax laws and procedures and professional practice standards. ACTEC frequently offers technical comments with regard to legislation and regulations but does not take positions on matters of policy or political objectives.

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