Title Insurance And Flying: It’s Not All Burritos And Love

Title Insurance & Flying: It’s Not All Burritos And Love

Walking From Money Requires a Walk!

Walking From Money Requires a Walk!

Walking from a multi million dollar deal isn’t easy when you’re paid on commission. But I did it today.

I’ll tell you why, then you tell me if you would’ve done the same.

Flying

Years ago I gave a few flying lessons to a student who seemed heavy on the confidence side. Unusually confident. Most students walking into a flight school for the first time are demure. This guy was cocky and demanding. Loudly he announced that he pretty much knew how to fly an airplane; he just needed a good instructor. By “good” he meant an instructor good enough to recognize his extraordinary talents and after maybe one or two flights would sign him off for a final FAA checkride.

When we got in the airplane I realized Mr. Confident had a perspective rich with fantasy. Someone had given him a few lessons but he had a long way to go before becoming a pilot.

When Mr. Confident  asked if he could buzz the school where his sister worked as a teacher, I became suspicious. Before 9-11 I would’ve been concerned about his judgment but post 9-11, as this was, I had several concerns. Is he just an idiot or could he be dangerous?

No Shoes No Service

You’ve seen the sign, No Shoes No Service? There should be a sign at flight schools, no common sense, no flying lessons!

I wasn’t making much in those days and I hated the idea of losing a student/client. On the other hand, I didn’t want to wake up to find CNN on my front lawn!

I talked with Mr. Confident over a delicious burrito lunch. Sometimes it’s best to interview students on the ground in a common environment.  They’ll open up and give you insight.  About half way through my burrito I determined he was surely an  idiot but not intentionally dangerous. In fact in my estimation I deemed him too stupid to be dangerous.

About a year later I got a call from the FBI. But first…

Title Insurance And $xMM

There’s a lot of energy around any high value Real Estate transaction. Emotions and ego’s can ratchet up as the stakes get higher. A multi million dollar deal can sometimes get exciting.

In this case the listing agent was yelling at me.

Not always but often I’ve noticed when voices get loud facts get soft.

Mr. Loud was trying to bully his way through the transaction, a common old-school tactic. But in today’s world there are checks and balances in place to protect the consumer. There’s no room for old school tactics.

I held my ground

Stepping back and assessing the situation, here’s what troubled me:

The seller was well past 80 years old and a much younger relative stepped in to handle his affairs.

Red flag #1.

Anytime a party to a transaction is elderly there is concern about potential elder abuse. There are laws to protect the elderly because, believe it or not, there are bad people who prey on them!

Next: The buying agent stopped communicating.

Red flag #2.

Why would an agent stop communicating days before closing? Why wouldn’t the selling agent issue a notice to perform?

Next: The selling agent said it was an all cash deal. Escrow said there was a lender.

Red flag #3.

Why is there a breakdown on the most basic components of a transaction days before closing?

Next: The Title Unit asked for a copy of the appraisal. Common on high value deals because a property value has to be established in order for Title to issue a policy. Simply put, the insurer needs to know for certain how much risk they are incurring.

The buyer had an appraisal done but in this transaction no one except the lender is talking to the buyer, not even the buyers agent!

Of course the lender has a copy of the appraisal but the lender can’t provide it to anyone without the buyers permission. But remember the buyers agent is MIA!

So: The request for the appraisal somehow goes to the sellers younger relative who refuses to provide it because, well, without having a Real Estate License, unilaterally decides providing a copy of the appraisal just isn’t necessary.

Red flag #4.

Who’s controlling this transaction anyway? And why can’t we see the appraisal?

Three Strikes Your Out. Four Strikes I’m Out

I decided there was too much rick in this transaction and when I stood firm with my request for the appraisal the seller’s agent threatened to pull the deal and take it to another Title company. I surprised him by agreeing.  I suggested he do just that.

Most Title Reps would sell-out before walking from a deal this big. In my less experienced days I would’ve done anything to keep this deal alive. But as you mature, you begin to see that shortcuts don’t necessarily bring  you to success. Doing the right thing – counts.

In a previous post, Seduce Your Wicked Imagination / Reduce The Risk I wrote: Insurance company’s are in the business of managing risk, not taking on risk.

The selling agent continued to yell. He told me he’d have the deal closed in two days with another Title company. I told him to do it.

Flying And Mr. Confident

A year after asking Mr. Confident to find another flight school,  I got a call from the FBI.  Mr. Confident was being investigated for suspicious activity consistent with possible terrorist planning. I’m not at liberty to give up the details but I can tell you this much. My statement to the FBI suggested that if Mr. Confident were doing the things they were investigating him for in order to impress girls in a bar I’d say they were on right on track. But knowing how utterly incompetent he is I figured he’s not much of a threat to anyone other than himself. I never heard from the FBI again so I’ll pretend they came to the same conclusion.

What Would You Have Done?

Pick your area of interest:

Real Estate or Flying

Tell me below in the comments section what you would have done. Would you have closed the Real Estate transaction in-spite of the red flags? Would you have continued to give Mr. Confident flying lessons?

 

Epilogue

Mr. Loud came back a few days later and asked to keep the deal open. He would provide the appraisal. After three weeks he did provide the appraisal and we closed the deal successfully with all boxes properly checked. I can only presume the other Title company asked for the same documentation.

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We Took Them In The Middle of the Night

It's Comforting To Know You Still Have Coverage

It’s Comforting To Know You Still Have Coverage

The morning sun felt busy.  Air traffic control (ATC) suddenly shattered the nights serenity with a string of commands spawned from the numerous early morning Los Angeles arrivals and departures. The radio chatter drummed against my ear, razor-sharp, like the sound of a nervous dog barking over a frozen pond.

I like to imagine the travelers going to exotic destinations . The reasons people travel are as vast as the places they go. Some go for work others to visit family or to find a new love, perhaps a few are just escaping the shattered rubble of a ruined beginning.

The passengers we carried this morning are VIP’s. Transplant doctors. We took them in the middle of the night from Los Angeles to another State where they would retrieve organs from a donor. And now we’re bringing them back with a heavy ice chest carefully packed; a human organ protected and preserved by ice. Someone in need is waiting in a sterile hospital room, tied down with IV needles and heart monitors, perhaps dreaming through a drowsy fog about what life will be like from now on.

Our passengers, or PAX, as we abbreviate them on load manifests, are simply sleeping. Exhausted from their nights work, rejuvenating their brains for the meticulous work ahead.

Descending from altitude we could clearly see our destination airport nearly 50 miles to the south. SoCal Approach continued to vector us along one of the familiar but not always convenient route segments that help them to track us on radar. I say not always convenient because the segmented routes don’t always represent the shortest distance. Sometimes they take us miles out of our way. But these PAX take priority. Their time is precious. A heartbeat can mean the difference between life-extended or a life-squelched. So we declared the airport in-sight and request a visual approach from SoCal Approach.

Looking toward our destination I could see the millions of homes sprawled out across Los Angeles like tiny Monopoly pieces on a playing board. And I briefly thought about those who do uninsured deed transfers on some of those million dollar homes.

Once safely on the ground a waiting helicopter whisks away our VIP’s and speeds them over the morning rush hour traffic to their awaiting hospital. My work here is finished so I pour a cup of coffee and prepare my head for a day of Real Estate and Title Insurance. And I reflect for a moment about the similarity’s and differences of that visual approach and an uninsured deed transfer.

How is a Visual Approach similar to an Uninsured Deed Transfer?

  • When a pilot requests a visual approach some of the burden of looking out for other air traffic shifts from ATC to the flight crew.
  • When a property owner records an uninsured deed they are relieving the title insurance company of risk and taking on that responsibility themselves.

How is a Visual Approach different from an Uninsured Deed Transfer?

  • With a visual approach Air Traffic Control is still monitoring the flight on radar and they will still offer protection to the flight crew. The pilots, while accepting more of the responsibility aren’t left unprotected from other hazards.
  • When a property owner records an uninsured deed they no longer have any protection from title issues and they accept full responsibility.

The reasons to request a visual approach are many. You’re still going to have radar coverage but you’ll save valuable time, fuel and money. But why would anyone record an uninsured deed transfer?

In my work day I run across a handful of uninsured deed transfers. Most are executed by ill-informed homeowners who believe they can escape debt by transferring their property to someone else, like a family member or friend. While you might delay a foreclosure by clouding the title you can’t prevent it by clouding the title. You can’t run and hide forever.

Not everyone is trying to cheat the system. Many people simply don’t know that when you record a new deed on property you’ll need to talk to your title insurance company. The title insurance company will either issue you a new policy or an endorsement covering your transfer, depending on the circumstances.

In the air carrier business flight crews won’t put their PAX in harm’s way by taking risky short cuts.  Likewise, homeowners shouldn’t risk their largest investment by taking an unnecessary risk.

Two Quick Facts About Title Insurance

  • Title insurance is cheap compared to most other types of insurance.
  • Title insurance is paid for once and is good for as long as you or your heirs own the property. There is no monthly or annual payments like car insurance or health insurance.

What Is Title Insurance?

Finally, many don’t know what Title Insurance is. Here’s the short answer from a Chicago Title website:  Title Insurance is a unique form of insurance. It provides coverage for future claims or future losses due to title defects which are created by some past event. These risks are far less obvious than those protected against by automobile insurance, but can be just as devastating. For more info please click on the “What Is Title Insurance” link above.

Please feel free to leave comments. And Remember, Sharing is Caring. Thank you.

Note:  I’m a Slash Careerist. Besides being a Title Company Account Executive I’m also a Charter Pilot.  Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employers; Chicago Title & Escrow or Chrysler Aviation.

Chicago Title has been in business for more than 160 years. It’s a company you can trust.

For more information about Title Insurance contact me directly at:
Ric Lippincott or leave a comment below

 

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Two Sure Times To Round-Up

Enjoy Peace of Mind

Enjoy Peace of Mind

There are two sure times to round-up. When calculating takeoff and landing distances and when deciding on insurance coverage.

Things are happening quickly. It’s nearly midnight. A medical team is climbing onboard and we need to get them 300 miles away-fast. Someone’s life depends on it. The fuel truck pulls away from the Citation 560 and the ground crew pulls the chocks. The cabin door is closed and a little light automatically goes off in the cockpit indicating the door is properly sealed. I’m working up the take-off numbers, setting radio frequencies on the six different radios, setting the altitude alerter, programming our route in the FMS (Flight Management System) and bugging our airspeed indicators.

Our takeoff distance, the amount of runway we’ll need to get in the air and clear all obstacles on the ground, is determined by a number of variables. Primarily by the weight of the airplane, a given power setting, and outside air temperature. Airplanes perform better in colder air. As pilots we use charts to help us calculate the proper engine power setting for our weight and outside air temperature. Of course the exact weight and temperature never seem to match what the chart gives us. The chart might have a column for 20 degrees celsius and 30 degrees but the outside air temperature might be 27 degrees. The weight column might offer us 14,500 pounds and 15,500 pounds when the actual wight is 14,735 lbs. So we extrapolate. And if there’s a remainder? I always Round Up! Why? Because I like having the peace of mind knowing there’s a little margin of safety.

INSURANCE OFFERS PEACE OF MIND

I like having the same margin of safety when buying insurance. From my perspective, it’s always better to have and not need, then to need and not have.  My car is insured by a large, reputable insurance company. So is my home. I always buy the best medical insurance I can afford. I skimp on things that aren’t necessary but I never skimp when it comes to feeling assured the necessities in life are secured.

TITLE INSURANCE

Recently I was asked about the difference between an ALTA/Home Owners Policy and a CLTA policy. These policies are referring to Title Insurance.  It’s a common question and I’ve written about it before. Read: Realtor’s And Pilot’s It’s Your Teacher Not You  For a printed table of differences click here:  Homeowners Policy/ALTA vs. CLTA

Lets keep things simple. Realtors: Your Title Insurance company will always default to the ALTA Homeowners Policy. Because in California the C.A.R. contract calls for the best coverage. Easy. You don’t really need to do anything!

Having said this; be wise and always check. Why? Because unless your client is only buying land the Title Insurance Company offers a CLTA policy when a residence doesn’t qualify for an ALTA HOP.  As the Realtor you’d probably have some questions. So check. What the Title Insurance Company is offering, either an ALTA HOP or a CLTA policy is usually on the second page of the prelim.

QUESTION

Does the ALTA HOP cost more than the CLTA policy?

Yes it does. About 10% more.  Think of it this way. For ten percent more you’re buying about 50% more peace of mind.

READY FOR TAKEOFF

“Medivac Charlie Victor Romeo cleared for takeoff runway two five right.” We taxi onto the runway and the engines start to scream. I know we’re going to takeoff safely because we’ve run the numbers and left a margin of safety.  Likewise, you know your clients are going to have the proper coverage they need on what’s undoubtedly their largest personal investment. The ALTA HOP offers a little margin of safety.

Please feel free to leave comments. And Remember, Sharing is Caring. Thank you.

Note:  Besides being a Title Company Account Executive I’m also a Charter Pilot.  Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow or Chrysler Aviation.

Chicago Title has been in business for more than 160 years. It’s a company you can trust.

For more information about Title Insurance contact me directly at:
Ric Lippincott or leave a comment below

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If A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings, Or, Zero Demand

Landing

One Degree Off Here Makes A Difference

When you pay-off a lien holder on your home make certain you record a reconveyance and save the zero demand! Let me explain.

Pop Culture loves the “butterfly effect”.  You’ve heard the catch phrase, “If a butterfly flaps it’s wings…” Edward Lorenz, an American mathematician and meteorologist pioneered the chaos theory. In simplest terms, in a deterministic nonlinear system, a very small change in one location can have a very large dramatic effect in another location. I’ll tell you why this is relevant in a moment.

One Degree Off Course

The cool air held our wings seemingly motionless even as we were being pulled through the failing light toward evening by the forgiving single engine Cessna 172 Superhawk. Twilight infiltrated the San Fernando Valley like a quite ghost, colors drained from objects on the ground making the trees, buildings, homes, and roads monochromatic in grays and black. I settled back in my seat and watched Dan (pseudonym) spin dials on the control panel.

Dan punched in locations on the GPS, set the heading bug on the HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator) and promised Air Route Traffic Control that he’d fly directly to our next expected location.  Only I knew he wouldn’t. Dan was my student. I’m a CFII (Certified Flight Instructor). Oh I know Dan can fly to his next destination. I taught him well. But I also know he won’t fly a straight line. Flying a straight line takes more than a hundred or so hours of practice.

Here’s An Interesting Flying Fact

For every one degree you fly off course you’ll miss your intended destination by 92 feet per mile flown, or about one mile off course for every sixty miles flown.  For example, if you took off from LA and wanted to fly to New York, but flew one degree off, you’d be 40 miles off course before you reached the East Coast!

One degree doesn’t seem like much. But over time it can make a very big change in your life. How about a Real Estate example?

Zero Demand

I got a call from a home owner yesterday. She wants to refinance her home and take advantage of these historically low interest rates.  I reassured her with sincere enthusiasm, “Great idea!”  There’s just one problem. Cynthia (another pseudonym) explained she had borrowed money from a private lender more than 20 years ago.  She insists she never used the money and returned it to the lender. Loan paid in full. No problem, right?

Wrong.  Cynthia may have paid that loan in full but she never recorded a reconveyance some 20 years ago.  A simple one page form that lets the world know she paid her loan in full and no longer owes the debt.  The lender would have then issued a zero demand meaning, nothing else owed. Recording the recon, that one degree, a one page form, literally takes a minute to fill out and less than $20 to record with the County.

If A Butterfly Flaps It’s Wings

Or should I say, if only the butterfly had flapped it’s wings 20 years ago?  Today, Cynthia has a problem. The person who loaned her the money and recorded a lien on her home, back in the day, is now 20 years later; dead.  And there are no apparent survivors who can attest to Cynthia’s claim the money was returned.  Getting that streamlined refinance just got complicated. Cynthia could buy a bond to insure against any claims that she owes money– but who wants to do that? She has a few other options, there always are, but none of them as smooth as a butterfly’s wings. If only she hadn’t strayed that one degree off – 20 years ago.

Stay On Course

In your life, in your relationships, in your marriage, in your personal affairs and finances, isn’t it easier to stay on course than deal with the ramifications later?  Stay focused. Remember, one degree off course today may seem inconsequential but if the chaos theory is correct, and physics proves it is, one degree off course is going to change something big in your future.

Please feel free to leave comments. And Remember, Sharing is Caring. Thank you.

Note:  Besides being a Flight Instructor, I’m a Title Company Account Executive. In other words, I sell Title Insurance. Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow.

Chicago Title has been in business for more than 160 years. It’s a company you can trust.

For more information about Title Insurance contact me directly at:
Ric Lippincott or leave a comment below

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Realtor; It’s Your Airplane

Angela Wong is a Realtor who is flying

“Engine instruments are green, airspeed’s alive, Vr,” I announced more from habit. The small Cessna climbed into the evening sky with steady grace. She’s a work-horse; the C172. A great airplane to teach future pilots, a fairly steady platform for commercial photographers, traffic watch reporters, pipeline inspectors, fish spotters, and short distance pleasure flights.  Angela Wong is a Realtor and a friend.  I put her in the pilot’s seat while I sat in the co-pilot’s position. I can do that because I’m a CFII (Certified Flight Instructor-Instrument) and officially I was giving Angela an Intro-Flight, a precursor to taking flying lessons.

After turning cross-wind and departing the KVNY airport traffic pattern I handed the airplane over to Angela. “Your airplane,” I spoke over the intercom-headsets. Angela did as I had instructed and dutifully responded with, “My Airplane.” By forcing students to get into the habit of announcing who is actually handling the controls, pilots remove any ambiguity about which one is flying and therefore, no one is pushing while someone else is pulling. If only life could be this easy.

Angela handled the airplane well. Under my command she flew us from Van Nuys to Malibu where we dropped to a mere thousand feet above the ocean and took in the beauty of the receding sun. A flawless flight that drew to mind how thankful we are for all the blessings we both have in our lives. Mostly opportunity, freedom, good jobs we both love, and friendships.

Later that night over dinner Angela asked me a Title Insurance question. “Have you run into any interesting Title issues lately?” I guess I should mention that besides being a pilot, I sell Title Insurance for one of the largest Title Insurance companies in the nation, Chicago Title. Five recent deals instantly came to mind. I almost didn’t know where to start. “Well, last week I had this deal.. a husband and wife are splitting. The husband doesn’t want to sell their house so the wife gets a court order. The Realtor finds a buyer but the husband refuses to sign any documents. We couldn’t close the deal without his signature because the court order demanded the sale of the house but had no provision to convey Title.” Angela understood immediately. She has years of experience. “So we’re left with two choices. Get the guys signature or go back to court and get an order that gives a court clerk signing power.”

I went on, “Then there was this couple, the wife is falling ill so the husband gets power of attorney and grants the house to himself. But a funny thing happens, the husband ends up dying before she did! Anyway, the Title had a cloud because, by law, you can’t use power of attorney to enrich yourself.” (See: Live Each Day Like It’s Your Last…)

Angela cut off a piece of steak and put it on a plate for me. “That’s too much,” I protested. Angela says, “No it’s not. Take it.” Then laughing she says, “Your steak!  Now I want you to say, “My steak.”

Driving home that night I started thinking about all the minor complications that can derail a Real Estate transaction. People who think they know – often don’t. Later their good intentions cause problems on the ownership of their property. That’s why it’s imperative to have a good Realtor on your side. Further, that’s why it makes good sense to go with a reputable Title Company, like Chicago Title. Your Title company can provide a lot of important information.

Similarly, airplane crashes rarely happen over one big mistake. Statistics show crashes are usually caused by a series of small errors that eventually add up to something bad happening. Good reason to have a good Flight Instructor and to develop good habits early on.  “Your airplane.”

Please feel free to leave comments. And Remember, Sharing is Caring. Thank you.

Note: I’m a Title Rep. In other words, I sell Title Insurance. Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow.

Chicago Title has been in business for more than 160 years. It’s a company you can trust.

For more information about Title Insurance contact me directly at:
Ric Lippincott or leave a comment below

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I Even Hate Little White Lies

Victrola

Truthfulness; a virtue as old as this Victrola

I hate lies. Even little white lies. Dolefully this puts me in the minority. Most people think it’s okay to tell little white lies. I don’t. But my battle for truth has formidable foes. Example: Dr. Robi Ludwig writes an article called, “Truth Be Told; When it’s OK to Tell A White Lie.” Of course Dr. Ludwig is talking about interpersonal relationships. No wonder the divorce rate is 50%.

Another example: Lisa Kogan writes on Oprah.com, “Lisa Kogan Tells All: The Lying Game.” Lisa says it’s okay to lie to your friends if you’re busy. What are frieds for if not to deceive? Besides, if it’s on Oprah.com it’s gotta be right. Right? Well I say wrong!

Here’s why it’s not alright to condone even the littlest of white lies:

Moral Decay

Moral decay doesn’t happen over night. It’s starts small and continues with baby steps until boundaries are fuzzy and no longer perceptible. If you get comfortable telling white lies without retribution eventually you’re going to tell bigger lies. Without a consequence where’s the harm, you’ll reason with your conscience.

The Erosion of Trust

Getting caught telling white lies pulls on the stitches of trust until there’s a systemic open wound infecting any opportunity of credible transparency. After all, if you’ll lie about little things where is the line demarcating little from medium or big? It’s not easy trusting a known liar.

Little white lies do hurt others

Most will argue that white lies protect people from hurt. On the contrary. I think people tell white lies because it’s easier on the lier, not on the recipient. You might say you lie to protect the other persons feelings but what you really mean is, you don’t feel like taking the necessary time to convey inconvenient news in a truthful but non harmful way. Sometimes it’s just plain conflict avoidance. However when you practice this form of deception you’re in effect robbing the receiver of their right to act, feel, or take action based on truthful information. Finding out you’ve been lied to is far more difficult to reconcile than dealing with factual news, even if the facts aren’t pleasant or desirable.

Little Lies Grow Big

When you tell little lies inevitably you’ll need to tell bigger lies to perpetuate your new designer truth. This is how little lies grow big.

Lying And Foreclosure

I hung up the phone and shook my head. Another case of someone losing their home to foreclosure. Instead of going down gracefully the homeowner chose the dishonest road leaving an insurmountable mess in their wake. What’s worse; they were aided in the lies and deception by a lawyer.

The Scam Goes Like This

Joe Homeowner is notified by the lender they’re headed for foreclosure. Sam Lawschool calls right behind the lender and promises to keep Joe Homeowner in the home for a long as possible–legally. Joe believes Sam Lawschool because Sam’s a lawyer. Aren’t lawyers supposed to uphold the law? Sam Lawschool tells Joe Homwowner they’re going to deed random people, people you don’t know and have never met, on the property Title thereby delaying the lender from taking back the property. This sounds wrong in Joes head but he decides to go along with it. Joe has now just crossed into the dishonest zone but justifies it by getting mad at the lender. “Those big banks are evil and are hoarding all the money.”

The harm this scam permeates is far reaching. The property becomes so encumbered by unknown people it can no longer be short sold. The Title is too clouded to unwind. The resulting foreclosure brings down property values, increases the loss to banks, degrades trust from lenders and drags down our economy’s recovery. That’s a lot of damage from one selfish lier!

Recently I asked Stuart Price, an honest attorney (they do exist), how many above board, legal ways there are to stop a foreclosure. Stuart was very precise. He said in his matter of fact way, “Ric there are only 2 ways. (1) Pay what is owed or (2) Get a judge to stop the foreclosure with an action, like bankruptcy for example.”

From a broader perspective, business losses to liars are staggering when considering lost dollars. Experts predict a range from the low billions up to $40 billion annually. From the few dollars the movie house loses from a child who really isn’t under 12, or merchandise bought with full intent to use and return, to the proprietor arsonist who torches a building to collect the insurance, billions are lost every year. And guess what? It’s the honest people who end up paying more for everything to offset the losses inflicted by liars. That’s why I hate even those little white lies.

If we all agreed to be tell the truth, all the time, wouldn’t we as a society be much better off? What do you think?

Please feel free to leave comments. And Remember, Sharing is Caring. Thank you.

Note: I’m a Title Rep. In other words, I sell Title Insurance. Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow.

Chicago Title has been in business for more than 160 years. It’s a company you can trust.

For more information about Title Insurance contact me directly at:
Ric Lippincott or leave a comment below.

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Live Each Day Like It’s Your Last, Plan Like It’s Your First

Planning Brings Peace of Mind

I laughed. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was stress or the irony of what I just heard.

Have you ever laughed when it wasn’t appropriate and then felt embarrassed afterwards? In the movie Pulp Fiction John Travolta holds a gun on a man while riding in a car. The gun accidentally goes off when the car hits a bump killing the man in the backseat. The entire theater laughs and then immediately feels guilty for laughing.

“John I’m really sorry for laughing, it’s not funny,” I begged for forgiveness. I felt embarrassed.

John, (a pseudonym), let me off the hook with some understanding words. John is a lawyer and called me about a case he’s facilitating. He started off with, “Ric I need your professional opinion on something,” and went on to describe a story only Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery could have written.

There is a husband and wife. The wife is falling ill and about to become incapacitated. In a valiant effort to protect their property, the husband takes power of attorney for his wife. Then he uses the power of attorney to vest their property in his name and later into a trust naming their soul sibling as the trustee. The idea seems noble however the law doesn’t permit the use of power of attorney for personal enrichment. Therefore the Title transfer becomes ineffective.

The ironic component of this story happens when the wife, who is expected to perish, outlived her husband who holds power of attorney over her! When John told me this I said, “John this is the place in a story where I tell people to call you!”  Irony aside, the Title has a cloud and it may or may not take a court to sort it out.

The wife did die soon after the husband and their soul surviving sibling is left to untangle the web.

After hanging up with John I pondered the consequences of improper Estate planning. Or worse I thought of the millions of property owners who have no Estate planning at all. Then I considered those who record ineffectual property transfers. It’s a good reminder to consult with an expert before recording a document on your property.

Just because the State accepts the recording fee does not guarantee the property has a clear Title.

Check with a reputable Title Company. Each state has their own laws regarding ownership of property and tax consequences. The best course of action for Estate Planning is to check with an attorney first. The worst thing you can do is – doing nothing. Or doing something improperly. When you don’t have solid estate planning in place, the property will go to probate court.  There, an executor will take their piece and the state takes a chunk in taxes and court fees. What’s left for your loved ones will be far less than it would be if you have proper Estate Planning.

I’m not legally able to recommend specific Estate Planning for you. But I can certainly refer you to a few great attorneys who can.  And I can strongly encourage you to get it done – correctly!

Please feel free to leave comments.  And Remember, Sharing is Caring.  Thank you.

Note: I’m a Title Rep.  In other words, I sell Title Insurance. Comments made here are my own and do not necessarily belong to my employer; Chicago Title & Escrow.

Chicago Title has been in business for more than 160 years. It’s a company you can trust.

For more information about Title Insurance or flying airplanes, contact me directly at ric.Lippincott@ctt.com.

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