Property Title Defects Cured Through Extensive Investigation

Our lawyers assist many clients with their estate planning. Oftentimes, while discussing clients' financial situations, we uncover issues unknown to our clients, such as a home for a married couple that is solely titled in one party's name that would have to go through probate if that party died first, or title defects arising from previous transfers among family members, or unapproved splits of large parcels to smaller parcels. In one recent example, when reviewing a previous estate plan for an elderly widow that was prepared by another law firm, we discovered that the trust she created decades ago didn't actually hold title to her home and farmland. After an extensive investigation and working with a local title company, we discovered that the parcels that made up her large property were acquired by land contract from different landowners over a period of years, but when they were paid off, she and her late husband never received deeds in fulfillment of those land contracts. For decades, they paid taxes, insurance premiums, and expenses, and everyone just assumed they owned the property, including her adult children and the local township. The significant passage of time proved to be challenging since all parties besides the surviving widow were deceased. By working with the title company and getting creative, we were able to resolve the multiple title defects without litigation and significant expense.