North End Neighbors

People

indigorunINDIGO RUN HELPS FAMILY KEEP HEIRS’ PROPERTY

Stephanie Stevens has lived in her Hilton Head Island home for 22 years, including 15 years with her husband, Leroy, and their family. Both Leroy and Stephanie work on Hilton Head and enjoy life in the Lowcountry. But things changed drastically for the Stevenses last winter after tragedy struck the family on two separate occasions. 

It started in February 2017, when Stephanie’s 30-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. Her death was devastating to the family — but especially to the couple’s grandson, who came to live with them. The boy settled into their home, attending a new school and making new friends.

But another unexpected blow came in mid-November, when the couple suddenly learned they might lose their home and land. Several of Stephanie’s relatives filed a lawsuit in an effort to force the sale of the family home because it is heirs’ property — property handed down to family members over the generations without any formal paperwork, such as a will, or not legally probated within the time period required by South Carolina law. As a result, the property often ends up being owned by multiple relatives who may never have lived on the land or paid the taxes.

indigorun2“For 22 years, I paid the tax bill….22 years!” Stephanie said. “At some point, the tax bill came addressed to me and said ‘owner.’ So I thought I owned the house.”

The Stevenses were shocked to discover that was not true and stunned to learn they were being given only about two months to buy out the relatives who filed the lawsuit.  After that, a forced sale would occur in January 2018. 

The Stevenses didn’t have the money to buy the property, and Stephanie worried endlessly about what would happen to her family.

“I couldn’t eat or sleep because of the stress and I even had trouble breathing,” she said.

When her grandson found out about the lawsuit, he too became very upset. He told his grandparents he didn’t want to move because he had just settled into a new home and school.   

Fortunately, Leroy — who has worked in the maintenance department in the Indigo Run neighborhood for 18 years — discovered that he and Stephanie had the backing of a caring community. The Stevenses told Chip Munday, the General Manager of the Indigo Run Community Owners Association, about the lawsuit. Munday suggested a GoFundMe campaign: That way, Indigo Run homeowners could provide the couple with financial assistance.   

Munday set up the account on GoFundMe.com on Dec. 21, with a goal of $30,000. Over the course of a few weeks, he emailed the community to encourage them to donate and to provide fundraising updates. By Jan. 3, the fundraising goal had been met and even exceeded.

In hindsight, the Stevenses say, the lawsuit was a blessing in disguise. They call their neighbors’ efforts a true holiday miracle, and say they are very grateful to the Indigo Run residents who helped them keep their home. But Munday, the man Leroy calls “our hero,” wasn’t surprised at the fundraiser’s success.

“Hilton Head Island, and Indigo Run in particular, has a depth and breadth of caring that astounds me,” he said.