Bad deeds

I have had multiple cases recently where title companies have refused to honor deeds recorded around the time of death. That is, the person just before death signed a deed to transfer the property to another. In each case the facts are slightly different.

Before I explain more let me tell you that, in my personal opinion, title companies can be above the law. What I mean is that the laws may say a certain deed meets the legal requirements to transfer title but that doesn’t mean a title company will honor that.

Sometimes maybe the title company is actually technically correct and other times I am not so sure. In my opinion title companies are more suspicious when a deed is recorded just before or just after death. I think they look at them more critically. Also, the homemade and often handwritten deeds draw critical review.

You need to be careful in preparing deeds. A deed is not to be taken lightly as it’s a major and significant legal document.

Things to look out for:

– Double check your legal description and then triple check it for accuracy. That’s what we do.
– I would list the address and APN number to make it easy for people.
– Do not try and sign a deed by way of a general power of attorney. “Specific” POAs are required.
– When possible record deeds as soon as possible and preferably before death.

Failure to get the deeds right can end up in a visit to the probate court!

Good luck! -John

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