A title is to a parcel of real estate is what a birth certificate is to a person; it is the most definitive proof of identity, on which all other official identifying documents are based. Without a title to a property you own, it is still yours, and you can still live in it, but when it comes to selling the property or buying title insurance for it, you will need to have the title in writing. A title company will not issue you a replacement title if you cannot prove that you own the property, but how do you prove that you own it without a title document? A quiet title action can help you get a court order declaring you the owner of the property. A Birmingham real estate lawyer can help you initiate a quiet title action on your property if you need to prove your ownership of it.
How Does a Quiet Title Action Work?
Even if you are the only person you know of who claims to own the property, the courts still regard a quiet title action as a real lawsuit with a plaintiff (you) and a defendant (everyone else who might, at any time in the present or future, claim to own the property). Thus, the defendant (everyone) gets a chance to respond and state their claim to the property; usually no one does. The period of time in which the defendants (everyone) may speak up passes, and they do not speak up, so the judge issues an order stating that all defects (meaning “gaps”) in the chain of title resolved and declaring you the owner. In your petition to quiet title (think of “quiet” in this context as meaning “dispute resolution”), you must explain how the ownership of the property passed to you from the last documented owner. If you do this clearly enough, then even if someone else tries to claim the property, the court will issue the order granting you ownership and declaring the title issues resolved. Phrasing your quiet title petition in a way that does not leave you vulnerable to other people’s claims of ownership requires skill and expertise; it is a good idea to have a real estate lawyer draft it for you; if you choose to write the petition yourself, you should have a lawyer review it before you file it.
When Do You Need a Quiet Title Action?
If you do not have a title to the property in your hands, you might need a quiet title action, especially if you do not have documentation of how you became the owner. Some plaintiffs in quiet title actions have inherited the property in question from relatives who did not leave a will or bought it from family members without documenting the sale in writing. You might also need a quiet title action if building contractors who did work on your house previously put it under lien and there are gaps in the documentation that the matter was resolved.
Let Us Help You Today
An Alabama real estate lawyer can help you file a quiet title action for your property. Contact Cloud Willis & Ellis for a consultation.