Jul 2023
Most Common Title Defects Undiscovered Wills or Missing Heirs

Most Common Title Defects: Undiscovered Wills or Missing Heirs

By Marc Shaw

An estimated two-thirds of Americans pass away without leaving a will, and that fact could have serious ramifications for those who have inherited or purchased real estate after the probate process is completed. A previously undiscovered will could call your ownership of a property into question. Additionally, if any other heirs come forward who would have a stronger claim of ownership, you may have to hire a lawyer. Both of these scenarios can cost you time and money, but not if you have an owner’s title insurance policy. 

Undiscovered Wills and Heirs after the Probate Process

If someone passes away without leaving a will, a probate court will determine how their assets are distributed, including any real estate they owned, in a process known as probate. During probate, they will attempt to identify and notify any eligible heirs and notify them of their relative’s passing.

If they find one or more eligible heirs, they may transfer ownership of the property to one of them. If they can’t identify an heir, the state may take ownership and sell the property. In some cases, a will is discovered after the probate process is completed. If that happens, any heirs named in the will could potentially come forward and try to claim ownership. In other cases, heirs may come forward who were not discovered during probate. These undiscovered heirs could challenge your claim of ownership.

Resolving Property Ownership Disputes

When previously unknown heirs come forward with a claim to real estate you own, you will need to either come to an agreement with them or undergo a quiet title action to clear any defects from the title. Either of these scenarios will cost time and money; however, if you have an owner’s title insurance policy, the process will be much simpler and less expensive. For the one-time cost of purchasing owner’s title insurance, you could be covered for any legal costs incurred during these and other scenarios related to title defects. Although an owner’s title policy is not required in many states, it is a smart purchase for homeowners who want additional protection.

Title Insurance in New York State and Nationwide

Previously undiscovered wills and heirs are just two of the situations that are covered by title insurance. Your policy also covers other situations, including:

  • Fraud and forgery
  • Illegal deeds
  • Surveying Errors
  • Undisclosed easements
  • And more

Resolving any of these title defects could require you to hire a lawyer and incur court costs. Title insurance can help you avoid that outcome, and it’s much more affordable than you might think. If you are interested in finding out more about title insurance for homeowners, lenders, and buyers, World Wide Land Transfer can help you! We have been in the title insurance industry since 2004 and our team has the experience it takes to assist you in finding the right title insurance policy for you. Visit our contact page to find a title insurance company in New York or anywhere else your next real estate transaction is taking place.

World Wide Land Transfer is a service-oriented PA title company with offices in Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C. With a record of going above and beyond, we are trusted to close everything from complex commercial transactions to residential refinance and purchase transactions.

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