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What do I need to bring to settlement? 
First and foremost you need to bring a smile. Our goal at Diamond Title Corp is to ensure that you leave with a smile too. You will also need to bring a valid government issued picture ID such as a Driver's License, Passport, or Military ID. Additionally, if you are bringing money to the settlement these funds will need to be "certified funds." Certified funds can come in the form of a cashier's check, teller's check, money order, or certified personal check. Cash is only acceptable in small amounts. Please call our office in advance if you intend to bring cash to settlement. You may also be required to bring additional documents which our office will inform you of in advance.

How long will the settlement take? 
While the time of a settlement can vary greatly, typically a refinance will take between 30 and 50 minutes and a purchase will take 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours.

How far in advance should I contact Diamond Title Corporation to handle my settlement? 
If purchasing, you should contact Diamond Title Corp as soon as you have a signed contract. By contacting us as early as possible, you allow us adequate time to obtain a title abstract on the property being purchased and clear any outstanding "clouds" on title prior to your contracted settlement date. Additionally, we can better coordinate the settlement with all parties involved including the sellers, purchasers, real estate professionals, and lenders.

If re-financing, you should contact us after you submit your loan application. Do not wait for final loan approval, as the time between your loan approval and settlement is often only a few days. By scheduling with us early, you allow us time to obtain the title abstract and clear any issues with your title, obtain payoffs from your current lender, and coordinate closing with your new lender.

What if I cannot attend settlement? 
In certain circumstances, a "power-of-attorney" can be prepared for you. A "power-of-attorney" is a legal instrument which allows another to sign legal documents on your behalf. Please give one of our attorneys or settlement officers a call to see if this is an option that would work for you.

Who attends settlement? 
At a "purchase settlement", typically the sellers, purchasers, and their real estate professionals will attend the settlement which will be conducted by one of our competent and experienced attorneys or settlement officers. At a refinance settlement usually only the borrowers and our attorney or settlement officer are present.

Who does Diamond Title Corporation represent at settlement? 
In a purchase transaction, the title company "represents" the contract. The title company does not negotiate the terms of the transaction; rather we facilitate the execution of the terms of the transaction. We do not act for, advice, or "represent" any one party. In a refinance closing, we are there to follow your lender's instructions and to explain the documents to you and verify that they are properly executed.

When can I find out how much money I need to bring to settlement? 
Because we rely on third parties such as lenders to provide us with instructions, information, and figures for your settlement, we often cannot furnish to you the exact amount you need to bring to closing until the day before, or, sometimes, even the day of settlement. However, you should be able to rely on your lender's or your realtor's good faith estimate for the approximate amount of money you need to bring with you. If you happen to bring too much money to settlement, we refund back to you any excess amount upon completion of the closing.

How should I hold title to my new property? 
There are several ways that property can be owned:
  • Sole owner
This is obvious; you own the property in your own name.
  • Tenants in common
Two or more people own property together. Under a tenant in common arrangement, each owner has a divisible interest in the property. Although most tenant in common ownerships are split equally (i.e., 50-50 ownership), there is no legal requirement that it has to be this way. Often, there are financial or other considerations that dictate a different ownership split -- for example, 90-10 or 75-25.
In a tenant in common ownership, on the death of one owner, the deceased person's percentage ownership is part of his or her estate. The property interest does not transfer to the surviving owner. If there is a will, that portion of the property is distributed in accordance with the instructions in the will. If the person dies without a will, called intestacy, the laws of the jurisdiction where the person lived controls the distribution.
  • Joint tenants
The parties jointly own the property. Although some states require language to the effect that the property is held as joint tenants with right of survivorship, the majority of the states consider the property as being jointly held even if this magic language is not included in the deed.
Under a joint tenancy arrangement, on the death of one owner, the property automatically transfers to the surviving joint tenant. This is called a transfer by operation of law.

Let's look at this example: A and B own property as joint tenants with right of survivorship. A dies with a will that specifically gives A's share of the property to C, his child. However, since the property is jointly held, B will end up with full ownership. C has no claim to the property.
Joint tenancy ownership can be unilaterally changed by one of the joint tenants. Let's go back to our example. While A is alive, he decides to give his share of the property to C. He prepares a will to this effect. But he also asks his attorney to prepare a deed, changing title to reflect that A and B hold title as tenants in common. Although B should be informed of this transaction as a matter of courtesy, B has no control over what A does with his share of the property. Now, when A dies, his interest will be distributed to his child C, in accordance with the terms of the will.
  • Tenants by the entireties
This is title reserved for husbands and wives. Although some married couples will hold title as joint tenants with right of survivorship, the more common arrangement is to take title as tenants by the entireties. This means that on the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse automatically (by operation of law) becomes the owner of the entire property.
Title ownership is important in life as well as in death. If, for example, there is a creditor who holds a judgment against one of the joint tenant owners, that creditor can force the sale of the property in order to satisfy the judgment.

Let us assume that the judgment creditor is owed $50,000 by one of the joint tenants, and the jointly held house is worth $300,000, with a $200,000 mortgage. The judgment creditor can get a court order requiring that the house be sold. The first mortgage lender will get its $200,000. The remaining $100,000 will be divided so that the judgment creditor will get his $50,000 and the joint tenant who did not owe any money will get the difference.

When the husband and wife hold title as tenants by the entireties, however, a judgment creditor of only one of the parties cannot force a sale to satisfy the debt. This can be done only if both husband and wife owe the money.

Thus, the way title is owned can be important, whether you are alive or dead.
Your mother now owns the property, since it was held as tenants by the entireties. The land records, however, still show ownership in both names. While it is not critical to have the title placed solely in the name of your mother, it is not expensive to update the records, and it may solve problems that could arise later.

Your mother will need a certified copy of your father's death certificate. This means that the certificate will have an imprinted seal from the government office that issues such certificates. She will then have to record a document, called a confirmatory deed, in the office of the Recorder of Deeds in the jurisdiction where the property is located. There should be no recordation or transfer tax, and the filing fee should be nominal, perhaps $20 or $30. Some local jurisdictions may require some additional documentation, such as an affidavit of exemption from tax.

Why should your mother make sure that title is in her name? Peace of mind is perhaps the most important factor. Additionally, many years later, you may not have your father's death certificate and there may be delays in attempting to locate one quickly, should the need arise to sell or refinance the property.
I sold my primary residence this year. What form do I need to file? 
NOTE: Persons are advised to check with an accountant or tax attorney to verify eligibility and details regarding any tax information on this web site.

If you meet the ownership and use tests, you will generally only need to report the sale of your home if your gain is more than $250,000 ($500,000 if married filing a joint return). This means that during the 5-year period ending on the date of the sale, you must have:
  • Owned the home for at least 2 years (the ownership test), and
  • Lived in the home as your main home for at least 2 years (the use test).
If you owned and lived in the property as your main home for less than 2 years, you may still be able to claim exclusion in some cases. The maximum amount you can exclude will be reduced. If you are required to report a gain, it is reported on Form 1040, SCHEDULE D, Capital Gains and Losses.
What is title insurance? 
Before answering "what is title insurance", it might be best to first answer "What is title?" "Title" is the ownership in real property. Among other things, it means that you have the legal right to possess, occupy, peacefully enjoy and sell your property without interference from others, subject only to restrictions imposed by governmental authorities or previous owners. In most cases, title is transferred by deed which is recorded in the land records of the county in which the property is located. Generally, when property is sold, an attorney for the Buyer or a title examiner goes to the record room and searches the land records for any title defects. A title defect is anything in the entire history of ownership of a piece of real estate which may encumber the owner's rights under the title. A title defect may cause the owner of real property to lose all or part of his land to a superior ownership interest or claim of another. This is the type of loss which title insurance protects against. In short, if you own a title insurance policy, the title insurance company will defend you, without cost, against an attack or claim upon your ownership interest in your property as insured and you will be protected against financial loss caused by a title defect.

If my title has been examined for defects, why do I need Insurance? 
There are many defects which even the most meticulous search of the land records will not uncover: For instance, it is impossible for an examiner to know whether the marital rights of all previous owners have been relinquished; whether all deeds, mortgages and judgments affecting the property have been properly indexed in the land records; whether all signatures are valid; or whether an unknown heir of a previous owner had a valid claim against the property. Without owner's title insurance you may have no avenue of recovery for these types of problems.
If I am required to purchase lender's insurance, why do I need owner's coverage as well? 
In almost every instance, a lender will require you to purchase lender's title insurance protecting it up to the value of its loan on the property. This coverage only protects the lender, not you, and the coverage diminishes as the loan is paid off. As you build more equity in the property, you expose yourself to a higher risk of loss occasioned by a title defect. In this situation the protected lender will suffer no loss while you as the owner of record bear the substantial risk of the damage. Owner’s title insurance will protect you against any covered loss from failure of title up to the full amount of the policy.
What are some reasons or examples of why I should have Owner's Title Insurance? 
Owner's Title Insurance will protect you against those hidden risks which would not be disclosed by even the most meticulous search of the public records. Some examples of those hidden risks are:
  • Forgery
  • Fraud in connection with execution of documents
  • Undue influence on a grantor or executor
  • False impersonation by those purporting to be owners of property
  • Incorrect representation of the marital status of grantor
  • Undisclosed or missing heirs
  • Wills not properly probated
  • Mistaken interpretation of wills and trusts
  • Mental incompetence of grantor
  • Conveyance by a minor
  • Birth of heirs subsequent to date of will
  • Inadequate surveys
  • Incorrect legal descriptions
  • Non-delivery of deeds
  • Unsatisfied claims not shown on record
  • Deeds executed under expired or false powers of attorney
  • Confusion due to similar or identical names
  • Dower or curtsey rights of ex-spouses of former owners
  • Incorrect indexing
  • Clerical errors in recording legal documents
  • Delivery of deeds after death of grantor
Are there different types of title insurance? 
Yes. There are three different types of Title Insurance. A Lender's Policy, Standard Owner's Policy and the Owner's Enhanced Policy.  Lender's Coverage is required by all corporate lenders as a condition of the purchaser's loan. This covers only the lender for the amount of the loan they are making to a borrower.

The Lender's Policy that the lender is provided with is the standard ALTA 1992 Loan Policy. It provides coverage to the Lender against such title encumbrances as fraud in connection with the execution of document, incorrect representation of the marital status of grantor, wills not properly probated, and many other circumstances that might jeopardize the Lender's security in the property.

The Standard ALTA 1992 Owner’s Policy protects you as the owner of real property against fraudulently executed documents, incorrect representations and improperly probated wills as well as any unsatisfied claims that may not appear in the County land records.

The Owner’s Enhanced Policy covers you, the owner against all that is included in a standard ALTA 1992 policy but with additional and enhanced coverage. For an estimate of costs for title insurance please see our cost calculator. Subject to limitations, some of the benefits of an Enhanced Policy include:
  • Mechanic’s lien coverage is provided for work done prior to the date of your policy.
  • Zoning coverage is now provided, insuring that your land is properly zoned for a single-family residence.
  • Subdivision coverage is now provided in the event your land is a portion of an improperly created subdivision.
  • Coverage is provided if you as the owner are forced to remove an existing structure, other than a boundary wall or fence, due to a previous owner’s failure to obtain the necessary building permit.
  • Coverage is provided if an adjacent builder builds onto the homeowner’s property without permission.
  • Coverage is provided for forgeries affecting your ownership after the date that your title insurance policy is issued.