Saturday, January 12, 2008

let's chat about corrective instruments

I have a case that closed in 2005, I believe. The homeowner - our insured - is having difficulties with the tax assessor. The tax assessor does not understand how a corrective instrument works.

Here's what happened.

The property was vested in a deceased individual. The daughter of the deceased was the executrix of his estate. For reasons not material to this discussion, the attorney for the estate advised the daughter to deed the property from the estate into her name as an individual before conveying the property to our insured.

For some crazy reason my office was asked to prepare the deed from the daughter into our insured and the estate attorney prepared the deed from the estate to the daughter.

The error occurred in the deed from the estate to the daughter. We reviewed the deed as did the attorney and neither of us noticed the error.

The origin of the error comes from HOW the deceased acquired full title. He acquired it in pieces with the last portion being a 1/3 interest. When the attorney had his paralegal type the legal description into the deed, she typed it verbatim from the last recorded deed and so inadvertently typed in a reference to the interest being 1/3, which language was buried in the starting lingo of the description.

So, the estate - which DID own 100% of the property - only conveyed 1/3 of the property to the daughter. The deed from the daughter, a warranty deed, conveyed the 100% interest over to our insured.

To its credit, the tax assessment office discovered the error. We contacted the estate attorney who prepared and recorded a corrective deed which corrected the legal description in the deed from the estate to the daughter.

The corrective deed had the effect of correcting the entire transaction. There is no question that our insured has full title in the premises. There is no clouding of the index that could cause problems because the corrective deed is clearly noted as such and any abstractor reading the instruments could put two and two together and yet.........

...and yet, the legal counsel for the tax assessment office cannot.

These folks insist that our insured only owns a 1/3 interest and are refusing to change the assessment records unless and until a new deed is prepared and recorded from the daughter into our insured.

The estate attorney was unresponsive to this request and I can hardly blame him. It's extra work with no purpose and it's being requested by the "grand poobah of title" himself who holds court and lords over the county making its citizens suffer through his legally challenging whims.

I don't know how the story will end but I have advised our insured that it is not a title issue. If he can get the assessment office to put their reasoning in writing, perhaps we can get the estate attorney to respond, however, beyond the courtesy of attempting resolution, I can't be much more help.

I'll report back as the wheel of poobahdom in rural Pennsylvania spins.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems this is happening a lot these days.

When I started in the industry way too many years ago, "After-acquired title" and proper corrective deeds were something I could barely wrap my head around, because I rarely needed to. The clerks took care of everything.

Now, it's something I find myself explaining to clerks more often than I care to admit.

Obviously, there's some serious training that needs to go on.