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Alan concentrates his practice in Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Elder Law, Estate and Trust Litigation,…
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Donald B. Veix, Jr
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Michael W. Mills
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Patty has been practicing law since 1996 in the areas of Employment Law, Health Care…
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Thomas P. Donnelly
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Lis pendens is a powerful tool which can be utilized in civil litigation pertaining to a claim against title to real estate. The filing of a lis pendens and recording that lis pendens against a parcel of property puts the world on notice that the owner may not have clear title, and thus, may be unable to convey same. A lis pendens effectively precludes transfer of the real property as any buyer must take subject to the cloud on title. Of course, a lis pendens must be supported by a writ of summons or a civil action complaint relating to real property.
Curiously, a lis pendens is not an available tool in an Orphans’ Court proceeding. Accordingly, a lis pendens cannot be utilized to place the world on notice of a claim against an administrator or executor where a transfer of property is made in connection with estate administration. Nor can it be used to place the world on notice of the claim relating to that transfer or a defect in their authority to effectuate same. Thus, the lis pendens is not an effective tool to preclude further transfer or encumbrance by mortgage or other debt instrument.
Although lis pendens is not available, the same purpose can be accomplished under the Orphans’ Court rules, provided a Petition for Citation has been filed with respect to the administrator’s activity. Pursuant to 20 Pa. Cons. Stat. §3359, any pleading in Orphans’ Court may be recorded in the Recorder of Deeds Office with reference to the property in question. While little case law is available to address the impact of such filing, the practical effect of providing notice of any existing claim to title may be satisfied.
Antheil Maslow and MacMinn is experienced in matters of estate administration and litigation pertaining to estate matters.
“Title Insurance is an agreement whereby the insurer, for a valuable consideration, agrees to indemnify the insured in a specified amount against loss through defects of title to real estate wherein the latter has an interest, either as a purchaser or otherwise.” Frost on Guaranty Insurance Sec. 162.
This definition is probably incomprehensible to most and is emblematic of the lack of interest or understanding about title insurance. Most people and businesses who own real estate are covered under a policy of title insurance. Most are not aware of it. Title insurance is, however, critically important to all real estate transactions’ ownership and financing, whether it be residential or commercial.
Title insurance insures that one who purchases real estate is in fact receiving good title, free and clear of defects. It is analogous to a warranty on the title or deed. As a purchaser, title insurance is optional. The additional premium for owner’s coverage is negligible when compared against the amount of money being spent for the purchase of the property. It is paid at closing and is uniform with all title insurance carriers. On a purchase of $500,000.00, the Owner’s Policy is a little more than one-half of one percent. The premium is paid once and the coverage lasts for the life of ownership of the property. More money is spent annually by owners of real estate for automobile insurance, homeowner’s insurance and life insurance than will be spent at the closing table to insure their largest purchase.
Why is this insurance necessary? Simply put, it insures that the largest purchase most people will make in their lifetime is defect free. It insures that ownership to the property will not be questioned; it insures that there are no easements or interests of others which will restrict your use and enjoyment of the property; and it insures that when you sell your property you will not be surprised by title defects which will make your property unmarketable and interfere with the sale. It also protects you against the expense of future litigation. The title insurance company will pay the cost of litigation which may be necessary to defend your ownership interest and use of the property. It can save an owner tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs and preserve a successful sale.