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I recently met with a client who owns some property up north with a couple of his brothers. He had contacted me with the intent of having me prepare a deed and a simple settlement statement with which to buy out his brothers' interest in their land. I asked whether the client would like for me to search the title to the property he was buying. The client (we'll call him "Jim") stated that his father had owned the property for some time prior to gifting it to his sons a couple of years ago. I replied that he was about to pay his brothers for the property and that $300 spent on a title search was a small expense in relation to the thousands of dollars he was about to pay. Jim agreed and I conducted a title examination of the property.
The following week I completed the title examination for Jim and gave him a call. It turned out that he and his brothers did not have good, clear title to their property. There was a deed into Jim's father decades ago from the widow of a former co-owner of the property with Jim's father. The widow had conveyed whatever interest she had acquired from her deceased husband, however, it was not clear whether or not there were any children or other parties who also may have had an interest in her husband's estate. Making resolution of this issue more difficult, there is no evidence that the late husband's estate was probated in the county where the property is located.
The lesson learned from Jim's situation is that no title to real estate is too simple to have searched by a knowledgeable attorney or title company. The title search fee paid to Farris Law and Black Bear Title is small in relation to the knowledge that Jim now possesses as to the quality of title to the property. Jim is now utilizing this information to reconsider whether or not to buy out his brothers' interest and at what price.
Should you be interested in purchasing any real estate, borrowing money secured by real estate, or have any other real estate related issues, do not hesitate to contact Scott Ladd at Farris Law (207-582-3650 or firstname.lastname@example.org).