Real estate data can play a significant role in many types of legal proceedings. Attorneys can benefit from property-related due diligence in cases related to divorce, easement disputes, probate and estate planning, real estate warranties and foreclosures. Title research, deed images and other relevant data may serve as evidence in any given case, and having this data easily accessible and searchable allows legal professionals to work much more efficiently when dealing with stacks of legal documents.
Property-Related Due Diligence
Many legal disputes involve real estate, or more specifically, the rights of possession over contested parcels or tracts of real estate. The emotional nature of many of these cases further complicates matters. The ability to locate the information they seek in documents relating to divorce, easement disputes, estate planning and probate quickly and efficiently allows legal professionals to reduce their clients' stress.
In many divorce cases, one spouse attempts to hide assets, including real estate holdings, from the other spouse. Uncovering such concealed holdings helps ensure a more equitable division of property between divorcing spouses. Similarly, facilitating the search of the content of real estate documents enables legal professionals working with clients located in community property states to properly determine whether a particular piece of real estate should be considered community or individual property.
Easement disputes range from disagreements concerning the boundaries between adjoining properties to road easements that allow owners of otherwise landlocked pieces of property to access an outside roadway. Locating relevant information concerning easement agreements can help a firm’s clients establish or exercise their legal rights — or prevent unjustified eminent domain claims that are actually little more than unlawful land grabs.
Few people relish the task of estate planning. However, determining the proper distribution of personal assets, including real property, is a necessary aspect of ensuring that the wishes of a deceased person are honored. Enabling clients in executing the terms of the distribution of real property is crucial in carrying out property-related due diligence. Determining the existence of agreements such as standard and pour-over wills, trusts and other estate planning related documents can help clients avoid the uncertainties associated with probate.
According to research conducted in 2016, only about 28 percent of all Americans over age 18 had a current will. Another 8.6 percent had wills that were out of date, and 63 percent had no will at all. Among Americans over age 65, only half had up-to-date wills, while 1 in 6 seniors had wills that were out of date. These unsettling statistics demonstrate the usefulness of accurate real estate data in working with clients dealing with family members or other loved ones who have died intestate and whose estates are subject to probate.
What Are Due Diligence Documents in Real Estate?
The examples above represent a few of the uses for comprehensive real estate data for legal professionals. The process of facilitating searches of real estate related documents facilitates legal professionals in locating relevant information regarding clients’ legal rights regarding real estate related disputes.
Examining the content of real estate documents does not replace the need to obtain actual documents. Instead, such services allow legal professionals to locate the information they need to best serve clients.
Property ownership is often more complicated than the layperson realizes. For instance, liens placed by the IRS or by commercial creditors can block the sale of a given piece of property. Joint ownership by two or more persons represents another potential complication in property transfer or sales transactions. Establishing ownership of a given property as well as determining whether or not clear title exists for that property are essential to any process involving the sale of real property.
Many homeowners hold mortgage burning parties to celebrate their final mortgage payments. However, even properties that are otherwise owned free and clear may be encumbered by unpaid property taxes. Initial searches can identify which documents are necessary to establish (or disprove) claims of delinquent property taxes associated with a given piece of property.
During the depths of the housing crisis, one of the most challenging issues was revealed to be establishing who actually owned a foreclosed property. That’s because many properties were bundled by financial institutions rather than held as residential, commercial or industrial parcels. Document searches can identify information needed to untangle complex property bundles and determine the actual status of a given property that is in foreclosure or at risk of foreclosure. Expediency in gaining this information is often a determining factor in whether properties can be saved or retrieved from the foreclosure process.
Real Estate Warranties
Homeowners are often surprised and dismayed to learn that their homeowners insurance policies do not cover critical functions of their home — such as utilities, appliances or even structural failure or faults not caused by acts of nature or criminal activity. Instead, such circumstances are addressed by real estate warranties. Documents searches can determine the existence and/or content of any real estate warranties in place on a given piece of property.
Legal Data Solutions
The question "What are due diligence documents in real estate?" is one that demands careful consideration. The answer varies according to many factors, including the nature of the case and the status of your firm’s clients. Whether they are dealing with the dissolution of a marriage, the death of a loved one, an easement dispute or matters associated with property ownership or real estate warranties, we can help. DataTree legal data solutions, including FlexSearch, can make searches more efficient and economical without sacrificing necessary care and due diligence.