Recent Legislation Enacted After LexisNexis 2023 Update Deadline

By Nancy Ferguson Nancy, a white woman with light brown hair, wears a white blouse and black jacket.

The below information was provided by David Unwin, Revisor of Statutes, to alert attorneys to this limitation in the most recent update by LexisNexis. Some legislation enacted late in the session is not yet incorporated into LexisNexis, including the important S.L. 2023-134 2023 Budget Bill which includes the NC State Bar Grievance Review Committee, Disciplinary Hearing Commission, and State Bar Fees provisions, as well as later notary law amendments, NCBA corporate law recommendations, and more regulatory reform, among others.

Due to the publishing schedule of LexisNexis, when sessions last a long time, LexisNexis and the Legislative Services Office typically agree on a cutoff date to determine what session laws get included in the next update of the General Statutes. The goal is to include as many session laws as possible while also enabling LexisNexis to publish its annual update on schedule. For instance, last year, LexisNexis and the Legislative Services Office agreed to treat S.L. 2023-122 as the last session law for purposes of the 2023 update. The General Assembly’s website is drawn from LexisNexis’s electronic data, so the website currently reflects sessions laws up through S.L. 2023-122. The Legislative Services Office is currently working on a 2024 Special Supplement that will reflect the remaining 2023 session laws. The 2023 budget bill (S.L. 2023-134) is one of these session laws. It is important to be aware of how up to date the General Assembly’s website is. Because the website currently does not reflect S.L. 2023-123 through S.L. 2023-151, a researcher should check the Law Modifications list for those session laws to gain the most current picture of the statutes. This list shows what General Statute and Session Law sections have been modified by these remaining 2023 session laws.

Announcing the Heir Property Pro Bono Project

Barrett, a white man with brown hair, wears a blue shirt, grey plaid tie, and dark grey suit.By Barrett McFatter

I am pleased to announce the launch of the Heir Property Pro Bono Project. Many legal services organizations encounter clients with heir property issues as these issues most often impact those who cannot afford an attorney to help. Heir property is an area where legal services providers may not have deep expertise. This project is developed in partnership with three NC legal services organizations: Legal Aid of North Carolina, Pisgah Legal Services, and Land Loss Prevention Project. As a section, we will create a clearinghouse of pro bono volunteers to assist legal services clients with their property issues. Anticipated areas of legal service needs are general real property law, title searching, genealogy/heir research, estate administration/probate, help with real estate closings/refinance, partitions, business formation for heirs who wish to create a family business interest to vest their property, foreclosure defense, and estate planning as a preventative measure. The project serves individuals who are generally low income, limited English proficient, seniors, and/or rural residents, and their families. The project has been approved by the NCBA Pro Bono Committee and will operate with support from the NC Bar Foundation pro bono programs staff.

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Odyssey Pilots in Wake, Johnston, Harnett & Lee Counties: A Real Property Perspective

Elizabeth, a woman with short blond hair, wears a pink blouse and khaki blazer. By Elizabeth Harrison

Those who practice in Wake, Johnston, Harnett and Lee counties have already begun to experience what it is like to perform a search in the Odyssey Portal system. It is sad to report that the AOC legacy system VCAP has more robust searching logic than the new Odyssey system.

AOC is aware of the problems with the search functionality. See attached Notes from the February 27, 2023 AOC Meeting. The notes lay out many of the reported examples regarding problems with the searching features. The four counties are called “Pilot” counties because the kinks in the system are being worked out before the system rolls out. AOC is actively working with Tyler Technologies to strengthen and change the search logic based on reported issues.

There is no clear timetable as to when the better-performing features will be developed and implemented. Changes and updates are happening in response to known issues without announcement as this system is a work in progress. For those using the current iteration of the Pilot Odyssey system, some of the known pitfalls and tricks are laid out herein and in the attached notes from the AOC meeting. As new features become available, the Real Property Section will continue to send out the pertinent information.

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Annual Meeting Report from the Real Property Section Chair

Christina Pearsall is a woman with wavy light brown, shoulder-length hair. She is wearing a bright blue shirt and a black blazer. She is standing outside and in front of green trees and a blue sky.By Christina Freeman Pearsall

Dear Real Property Section:

We had a wonderful time in Asheville at our Real Property Section Annual Meeting and CLE! It was our first in-person meeting in two years! If you weren’t able to join us – we missed you! Please plan to attend next year.

As we always do, we had our last Real Property Section Council meeting on May 19, 2022, while we were in Asheville. Below is a summary of the Council’s activities since our February meeting.

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North Carolina and North Carolina Attorneys Need RON – Now

By Jason M. Peltz[1]

North Carolina needs its own permanent Remote Online Notarization (“RON”) legislation. By implementing carefully drafted RON legislation, similar to what was contained in the original House Bill 776 (H776) with suggested critical modifications by a stakeholder group (more below)[2], North Carolina will not only meet current demands in an increasingly technology-based world but also allow North Carolina attorneys in multiple practice areas to maintain control over their transactions without having to resort to or be at the mercy of outside notary service providers.

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February Update from the Real Property Section Chair

By Christina Freeman Pearsall

Dear Real Property Section:

The Real Property Section Council continues to work diligently on behalf of the section. Below is a summary of those efforts, as reported in our last Council meeting on February 8, 2022.

Return to the Vault Program

I, personally, am very excited about this new section program. The purpose of the program is to bring the section membership together via Zoom on a regular basis, recognizing that few of us go to “the vault” to search titles anymore and have lost that sense of community the more senior members of the section once had. We would like to bring that sense of community back, especially considering the social distancing and remote meeting requirements we’ve dealt with in the past two years. The meetings will have a stated purpose, usually educational (but no CLE credit will be sought), but sometimes maybe just for fun. We plan to have presentations roughly every month. We’ll skip May 2022 since we will have our Annual Meeting then. We may also skip summer months since many members take vacations then. We will seek sponsors to support the programming, so please consider being a sponsor.  Please also share program ideas with Matt Waters and/or me. A committee is being formed to plan these programs and Matt Waters will chair it.

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The New Corporate Transparency Act and Its Potential Impact on North Carolina Commercial Real Estate Attorneys

By Margaret Shea Burnham [1]

The Corporate Transparency Act of 2019 (“CTA”)[2] was enacted January 1, 2021, as part of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (“AMLA”), which is part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (“NDAA”).[3] This article contains highlights[4] of the CTA, an outlook of regulations to come, and an alert to North Carolina attorneys of the potential impact with respect to a commercial real estate practice.

A. Purpose.

The purpose of the CTA is to “(A) set a clear, Federal standard for incorporation practices; (B) protect vital United States national security interests; (C) protect interstate and foreign commerce; (D) better enable critical national security, intelligence, and law enforcement efforts to counter money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and other illicit activity; and (E) bring the United States into compliance with international anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism standards.”[5]

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Update from the Real Property Section Chair

By Christina Pearsall

Dear Real Property Section:

It is my honor to serve as Chair of the NCBA Real Property Section for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Also serving on the Executive Committee are Vice-Chair Lindsay Parris Thompson of The Van Winkle Law Firm in Asheville, Secretary-Treasurer Matt Waters of Jordan Price in Raleigh and Immediate Past Chair Brian Byrd of Fox Rothschild in Greensboro.

The Real Property Section Council has been working diligently on behalf of the section. Below is a summary of those efforts, as reported in our last Council meeting on November 9, 2021.

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When You Do Not Know What You Do Not Know: Are There Certain Interests Not Foreclosed In a Tax Foreclosure?

James W. Narron

Taylor Avioli

By James W. Narron and Taylor Avioli

Once upon a time there was abroad in the east a rogue with a tax scheme: set up a North Carolina nonprofit corporation, with the word, “Conservation,” in the name, have one-page minutes naming prominent folks like judges as directors, and file the same away. Not only would the directors not meet, but also they were never aware of the company or that they were named. Without any of the baseline data and other requirements for a conservation easement included in the 26 U.S.C Section 170(h) regulations, cause a deed to be made to the company and encourage owners of the land to take certain federal deductions for a conservation easement and certain state tax credits (at a time when those were allowed). See, e.g., Lukens Island Timber Enterprises, LLC, v. Coastal Hunting Land Conservation Group, Inc., 09 CVS 1901 (Carteret County Superior Court rescinded the conservation easement based on fraud of the creator). In some cases, the owners would just abandon the lands, after which in due course a tax foreclosure would follow.

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Legislative Update

By Brian W. Byrd

I hope this message finds each of you well and enjoying professional fulfillment in your law practice. I expect that many of us would say that the prior year has been among one of the most unusual, and perhaps trying, of our lifetimes. Although probably not at the top of our list of challenges wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am sure that most of us have missed gathering with our colleagues at in-person CLE programs and other section activities. As we head towards a full reopening of society and commerce, which I hope will include in-person meetings and gatherings in the not-too-distant future, I would like to make sure that our section members are aware of several pending bills in the General Assembly of interest to real estate practitioners so that you may provide feedback to your representatives as you see fit. This legislative session is particularly busy with impactful legislation for real estate lawyers, and this message will touch upon only certain significant bills: Read more