When you buy a home, you need to be sure the seller is the true owner of the property. You must also ensure that no outstanding issues will damage the title transfer to you.
Why? Problems with the title can restrict the use of the property and ultimately result in financial loss. That’s where title insurance comes in and where Community Settlements can help you.
We conduct a comprehensive title search to make sure your ownership is free and clear of any known issues. We make sure that at least the last Sixty years of transfers in the property are free of any known issues.
Although we do our best to make sure there are no known issues, there is a large amount that we can’t know such as:
Unforeseeable title claims, such as:
- Forgery: making a false document
- For example, the seller misrepresents the identity of the person selling the property.
- Fraud: deception to achieve unfair gain
- For example, someone steals your identity and either sells your house without your knowledge or consent, or takes out a second mortgage on the property and walks away with the money.
- Clerical error: inconsistent paperwork and historical records
- For example, an unforeseeable discrepancy in the property or fence line causes confusion in ownership rights.
Unexpected title claims, such as:
- Outstanding mortgages and judgments, or liens against the property because the seller didn’t pay required taxes
- Pending legal action against the property that could affect your ownership
- An unknown heir of a previous owner who is claiming ownership of the property
The cost is minimal and is only paid once. There are no renewal premiums, and there’s no expiration date on the policy. The protection lasts as long as you – or your heirs – maintain an interest in the property. It’s security that lasts. It is well worth the small investment to give you peace of mind that your ownership is free and clear of any issues.
How To Hold Title in Maryland
Title in Maryland can be held in 4 ways (plus some trust formats). Each Tenancy has its own advantages and disadvantages and it is important to choose correctly. It is important to talk to an Attorney about how to hold title and why because it is very specific to each set of facts. At Community Settlements our Attorney is available to discuss this with you. See below for a basic overview of each tenancy.
An undivided ownership interest by one person with no other party having a right or interest in or to the property.
TENANTS BY THE ENTIRETY
An undivided interest by both husband and wife, with the right to the entire property passing to the surviving spouse upon the death of one spouse. Tenants by the entirety provides some protection from individual creditors and is the presumed tenancy for married couples.
Protections example: Andy and Beth are a married couple. Andy gets a personal loan for $10,000 from Joe and doesn’t pay it back. Joe can’t put a lien on the house because Beth didn’t sign for the loan as well.
An equal ownership interest by all parties named on the deed with rights of ownership vesting in the survivor of all owners.
In MD there is a presumption against Joint Tenancy, therefore it must be stated clearly “Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship” in addition to the clear statement there must be: Unity of Time (interests of all co-tenants must vest at the same time, Unity of Title (interest must be acquired through same Deed), Unity of Interest (Must have equal Interests), Possession (Must have equal and Concurrent rights to the Property).
Example: Andy, Beth, and Charles own Black Acre one-third (1/3) each. If Beth dies, Andy and Charles will each own one-half (1/2) of Black Acre.
TENANTS IN COMMON
An individual ownership interest in a portion of the property (either equal or unequal) with another party and sharing a common interest and right to use as to the whole. Tenants in Common DOES NOT PROVIDE for survivorship rights. Thus, a will is recommended to identify the recipient of the ownership interest upon the death of one of the owners. In Maryland Title is presumed to be held Tenants in Common unless stated otherwise or a couple is married.
Example 1: Andy, Beth, and Charles own Black Acre. Beth owns seventy percent (70%), Andy owns twenty percent (20%), and Charles owns ten percent (10%). Charles dies. Charles has a will that states that his interest should pass to his mother, Charlene. Charlene now owns a ten percent (10%) interest in Black Acre. If Charles dies without a will, his interest will pass according to the laws of the State of Maryland.
Example 2: Andy and Beth are married but own Black Acre with Charles. Andy and Beth own a sixty percent (60%) interest in Black Acre, which they hold as Tenants by the Entirety. Charles owns a forty percent (40%) interest in Black Acre. As between Charles and the unit made up of Andy and Beth, the parties own Black Acre as Tenants in Common, forty percent (40%) to Charles, and sixty percent (60%) to Andy and Beth jointly.
Community Settlements can also help you decide how to take ownership interest in the house. In Maryland there are 4 possible ways to hold title.