How to Keep Bad Title From Derailing Your Estate Plan

Verifying good title on real property as part of your estate planning is essential if you want to avoid nasty surprises later.

Verifying good title to real property that is part of an estate plan is often overlooked by clients.  Most just assume title is good and do not understand the significance when their estate planning attorney points out that deeds are prepared “without title work.”  What that means your estate planning attorney is not going to hire a title company for you as part of your estate planning.  Although most estate planning attorneys will have title work done for you if you ask, there is always an added fee and expenses related to obtain a title report for you.  Alternatively there is no reason you cannot hire a title company yourself do do the work for you.

Verifying title to real property in your estate will also help ensure the investment you made in your estate plan won’t go to waste and that your estate plan will actually work as planned.

The last thing you need is a cloud over title on property you are trying to pass to your heirs or to sell in connection with winding down a probate or trust estate. A few things that can cause an otherwise excellent estate plan to be derailed by bad title include:

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Finding out you have a cloud over real estate can be a nasty surprise for your heirs and can derail even the best estate plans

  1. Tax and other liens and judgments;
  2. Bad legal descriptions;
  3. Undisclosed easements;
  4. Forgotten or unknown quit claim deeds and transfers severing joint tenancy;
    Property owned as tenants in common rather than as joint tenants;
  5. Property still showing title in the name a deceased spouse combined with a probate that was never opened by the living spouse and heirs the property should have been distributed to but wasn’t

Having a title company do just a little research can have a big impact on your estate plan and your heirs. Unless you are absolutely sure your title is good, why take the risk of not having it done?

Elder Law Tidbits: Title and abstract companies

Priscilla Madrid is an estate planning, elder law and probate attorney serving clients in Yorba Linda, Anaheim, Brea, Placentia, Villa Park, Orange, Tustin, Santa Ana and the surrounding Orange County areas for over 23 years. She holds a Legal Masters Degree (LLM) in Estate Planning and Elder Law and is a member of the American Bar Association Real Property and Estates Section, The California and Orange County Bar Association Trust and Estates Sections, the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys and the the American Board of Trial Advocates. She is also a VA certified attorney and a certified mediator.


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