All posts tagged: Attorneys Fees

Payments & Costs

Title Insurance fees are regulated by the State of Florida. The base rate is $5.75 per thousand up to $100,000 and $5.00 per thousand thereafter up to $1 million. That’s your one-time fee at your real estate closing—it’s one EASY payment that can prevent MEGA payments in litigation fees should your ownership be questioned. I promote title insurance because it’s a relatively small amount compared to the risk of legal defense cost, which can be mightier than your bank account and all your savings put together.

Title insurance pays for your legal defense should someone challenge your property ownership. It pays all your filing costs with the court and for your attorney. The bad news is that your homeownership is in jeopardy—the good news is that your title insurance pays the cost to defend it. Title insurance gives you that peace of mind for as long as you or your heirs have a financial interest in the property. It pays valid claims and covers the cost of a legal defense of your ownership. And it’s a lot cheaper than paying for an attorney yourself.

It also pays out the amount you are insured for should your court case does not come out in your favor. Yes, just because your title search showed up clean and just because you paid for your real estate, someone could have a valid claim to your property. You might still lose your house. Title insurance pays for your legal expenses plus the amount you’re insured for should your defense fail. It protects you against financial loss even if you have property loss.

You could lose your home, but you don’t have to lose your shirt.

Stephen CollinsPayments & Costs
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Your Move

Moving is a hassle. We just moved our Land Title Office to the Lewis Point Plaza in St. Augustine (where Planet Fitness is located) and believe me, it wasn’t easy. You don’t want to move if you don’t have to, which is another reason I encourage people to get title insurance.

It’s really a matter of money. When it comes right down to it, the question is if you want to spend a little money up front, or risk spending a lot of money in a lawsuit. For a one-time fee at closing, you can buy title insurance on your property. Yeah, a challenge of your ownership is no cake-walk, but it’s not going to hit your finances if you’ve got a title insurance policy. That policy is the financial backbone that’s going to defend your ownership in a court of law should someone claim they own the property or have some other kind of interest or rights.

What if, let’s say, a man knocked on your door and told you there was a mistake at the courthouse and that your home actually belonged to him and he wanted you out so he could move in? If you don’t have title insurance or grandiose personal finances to defend your ownership rights, guess what? That man automatically wins. He automatically gets your house and you have to move. No defense is no defense. You need to be independently wealthy or have title insurance to defend your ownership in a court of law (and the second one is a little easier for most people).

It’s your move. You decide at the closing table if you want to buy title insurance or risk losing your house and all your money.

I hate moving, but I will say that we’re very happy in our new location on South US 1 in St. Augustine. It’s a nice newly designed space, easy to find, easy to get to, it’s got that fresh paint smell, AND WE NOW HAVE PLENTY OF PARKING. Did I just shout that out loud? Feel free to come and see our new place.

Stephen CollinsYour Move
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You Might Still Lose

Homeownership comes with the responsibility to defend that ownership, even against hidden risk. It is not your fault someone at the courthouse didn’t record a deed, or that the previous owner forgot to include an estranged daughter in the will, but you are responsible to defend your ownership against these kinds of problems.

If someone challenges your ownership of your home, that person could be right. It sounds ridiculous, but yes, someone could have a valid claim to your property. Just because a rigorous title search didn’t reveal the estranged daughter of the previous owner doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a legitimate right to claim. Title insurance doesn’t prevent that kind of thing—it pays for it. Risk to ownership is inherent with real estate ownership itself.

Furthermore, title insurance doesn’t guarantee you’ll win in court. No one can do that, not even my brother, Rusty, even though he thinks so. If you have title insurance and the estranged daughter of the previous owner challenges you in a court of law, your title insurance will pay your legal fees—it pays for your attorney and all legal-related expenses of your case. The bottom line is you might still lose your house, in which case title insurance pays your legal expenses plus the amount of money you insured the house for.

Title insurance pays valid claims and legal fees to defend your ownership. The big advantage of title insurance is that it protects you from financial loss. Nobody wants to lose all their money and their home. Title insurance keeps your shirt on even if you lose your house.

Ownership challenges are not pretty and they can be difficult to deal with, but if you have title insurance, then you keep a bad situation from becoming a worst case scenario.

Stephen CollinsYou Might Still Lose
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Forwards and Backwards – Coverage of Title Insurance

An owner’s title insurance policy protects the financial interest of a real estate owner should there be a challenge to his ownership. For instance, what if a deed were recorded incorrectly at the courthouse and public records showed two owners for the same piece of land? Yeah, there’d be a day in court for that and one day in court can be very expensive, especially if you have to pay the lawyer yourself! That’s where a title insurance policy protects your financial interest—it pays all legal expenses in the defense of your property ownership.

Title insurance coverage is unique because it reaches both forwards and backwards simultaneously to protect you.

It is good from the day you purchased it backwards. It covers everything that happened before your purchase, including all unforeseen title flaws, and it pays litigation should someone challenge your ownership through a lien, claim, or taxes. Whether or not someone has the right to challenge you, you still have to prove your ownership in a court of law, and that can be cost prohibitive.

For a one-time fee at closing, you can buy an owner’s title insurance policy that insures you into the future, even protecting you after you sell that property through all past hidden claims. Don’t throw away that title insurance policy! Because the contracts and the new title insurance of the buyer require you to convey with warranties, you become responsible for anything that has ever transacted on the property.

Title Insurance is an inexpensive way to protect your now and your future from the flaws of the past.

Stephen CollinsForwards and Backwards – Coverage of Title Insurance
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The Shape of Hidden Risk

If we knew what Hidden Risk looked like, we wouldn’t let him in the door. The truth is, he comes in many different forms. If you own a home, Hidden Risk to your ownership could come as an error in recording at the courthouse, he could be the scratch of forgery, the invisible color of an overlooked document on a title search or the guise of an undisclosed heir of a previous owner. Hidden Risk can wear a legitimate lawsuit, or be clothed in fraud. Regardless of appearance, if Hidden Risk shows up at your doorstep, he’s your responsibility.

Hidden Risk can be an expensive guest, especially if you have to foot the hospitality of a defense lawyer yourself. However, if you have title insurance, that policy will pay for all your legal expenses related to the threat of Hidden Risk.

You can’t prevent Hidden Risk from walking up to your door, but with title insurance you can keep him from entering your finances.

Stephen CollinsThe Shape of Hidden Risk
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Parable of the Lost Title

There was a man who had two sons, and the younger son said to the father, “Father, give me my share of property that falls to me,” and so the father divided his wealth between his two sons, including the title to his land. The younger son then gathered all that he had and took off to a far away country where he squandered his wealth.

When the younger son had spent everything, he found himself among the swine, wishing he could partake of their food, but no one would give him anything. Finally he said to himself, “How many of my father’s servants have bread enough, and yet I perish with hunger! I will go to my father and I will say to him, ‘Father, I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.’”

And so the younger of the two sons arose and returned to the land of his father. But while he was yet at a great distance, his father passed away. The older brother, not being able to locate his younger brother, sold the entirety of the property. So when the younger brother arrived—possibly expecting a ring on his finger and a fatted calf for lunch—he found instead a new homeowner on what was once his father’s land, a portion of which he was to inherit.

This kind of thing can happen. Despite that the new homeowner didn’t know anything about the younger son, this kid could claim a right to the land. If the new homeowner didn’t buy title insurance, then he’s going to have to pay for that legal battle himself to defend his ownership. Title insurance covers the legal cost from unseen risk of previous ownership.

Stephen CollinsParable of the Lost Title
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Title Insurance on a Cash Purchase

Question: I just bought a home and paid cash for it. Do I need title insurance?

Answer: Yes. It’s highly expensive to be totally innocent. You could be dead right about your ownership of a home or land, but you’ve got to prove it in a court of law if someone questions that ownership.

Title insurance is not about what’s on your title search. It’s about what isn’t. Regardless of whether you paid cash, have a mortgage, or the property was given to you, title insurance protects your financial interest in that property by paying claims or legal expenses related to any challenges of your ownership.

You don’t buy title insurance because you want to use it, but if you need it, it covers your legal expenses.

Stephen CollinsTitle Insurance on a Cash Purchase
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Title Wave

Surf’s up! It’s a great time to have title insurance! There are a lot of great deals in the real estate market with REO’s and foreclosure sales. You can pick up an investment property or a primary residence for a bargain purchase price. Don’t be pennywise and pound foolish.

Just because you saved a bundle on the purchase price doesn’t mean you should go on a cheap streak and not buy title insurance. Regrettably the real estate industry has gone through some hard times, especially in the documentation of who owns the note. People think they’re getting a great buy, then it turns out the company they bought from did not have the rightful authority to sell it. The sale gets challenged in court and the new homeowners have to defend their ownership from somebody else’s error.

That legal defense is dang expensive!

Or it can be a smaller title problem, like a dispute over a property line. Maybe the neighbor’s survey puts the line six feet over the homeowner’s easement. That’s not as dramatic, but you still have to face a claim or litigation. Again: Dang expensive!

Title insurance pays claims or litigation costs if there’s a debate over a title. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a question of the entire property or a just a property line location, title insurance pays your legal fees to defend your ownership. It doesn’t give a discount towards legal fees—it pays them. Period.

With the current conditions of the documentation, we are likely to see more confusion over a property title both now and in the future, making this a great time to have title insurance.

Stephen CollinsTitle Wave
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Property Title Claims – How Does This Happen?

When it comes to inheritance, some family reunions are more welcome than others. There was a situation of husband and wife. Second marriages for both of them, and they both had two children from previous marriages. The husband and wife wrote a will to include their combined four children. Then the husband died. Next the widow wrote a new will, which included only her two children from a previous marriage. Then she committed suicide. Regrettably, this is a true story.

The probate was clean and done when the husband’s two children showed up. They claimed the widow had written the second will under duress and they wanted their part of the inheritance from their father. Despite probate, a person who has an interest in a property has 30 years to stake that claim. It’s not just that there is a hidden risk—the risk is lingering.

A title search can’t catch hidden risk, but title insurance helps the legal defense of ownership against property title claims. A title insurance policy is not something you want to have to use, but if you need it, the title company who issued the policy will pay all your litigation costs.

Stephen CollinsProperty Title Claims – How Does This Happen?
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Sibling Rivalry

My brother is a lawyer. It can be very expensive to talk to him—he charges me when he says “Hello”—and it can get pricey to hire him to defend you in a court of law.

Most people think buying land from the family is safe. It’s been in the family, you know who’s owned it. But from my experience in the title and abstract business, a deed transferred between relations can be riskier as far as title claim is concerned. You never know when a lost heir is going to show up at a family reunion to claim his part of the inherited estate. That’s where sibling rivalry can turn ugly.

Legal fees are a lot cheaper on title defense if they’re paid in advance through a title insurance policy. Then you don’t have to worry about what illegitimate claim turned up at a family reunion for a piece of the pie. You still have to defend your claim, but you can rely on your policy to pay for litigation fees.

Title insurance prepays your court costs should a challenge to your ownership arise. The policy can’t prevent a claim, but it helps defray the financial burden of defense.

Stephen CollinsSibling Rivalry
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