Have you transferred any real estate as part of your estate plan? Sold your home? Gifted property to family by way of quit-claim deed? Have these deeds been recorded? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you have also most likely received solicitations from companies offering to get you a copy of your deed for a fee somewhere in the range of $90.00 to $100.00. Do you need to pay that amount in order to get a copy? In almost all cases, the answer is no.
First of all, it must be noted that what these companies are doing is not illegal or a scam. They are providing a service for a fee, plain and simple. The problem is that in almost all cases you have absolutely no need for their services, and consequently no need to incur their fees.
Most of the time, the solicitation occurs after you have made a transfer of property, but even so it sometimes comes as a surprise. Usually it comes in the form a two-sided, index-card-sized document that looks like it was mailed by the county recorder. The sender offers to order a copy of a recently recorded document for you in exchange for the above stated fees. While we do not know precisely how or where these companies come by the information that documents have been recorded related to our client’s property, it is clear that someone must be monitoring the filings in the county recorders offices. Regardless, the fact of the matter is that if we at Spesia & Ayers represent you as part of any real-estate transaction, you will have no need for the services they offer.
When Spesia & Ayers estate planning attorneys prepare an estate plan that involves the creation of a revocable living trust, we also prepare any deeds necessary to convey the client’s real property into said trust. In other estate plans, we encounter married couples who own their marital residence as joint tenants and as part of our representation we often prepare deeds that convey the clients’ marital residence into tenancy by the entirety (a superior form of ownership available to married couples). In other situations, our client may be a widow or widower whose spouse has recently passed while they held property as joint tenants. In such situations, we may be required to file an affidavit of a surviving joint tenant in order to clear title to the property. Regardless of circumstance, in every representation of each of our clients one thing is certain: we will prepare all necessary deeds, help our clients execute then, record the deeds in the counties where the property is located, and ensure that you are provided with copies for your records. Because we take care to ensure that our clients are provided with copies of every deed we record, our clients have no need to pay a $100.00 fee to have a third party get them a copy.
If you have engaged an attorney to assist you with any kind of real-estate transaction that includes the recording of a deed and you subsequently receive a notice from a company offering to send you a copy of the document for a significant fee, make sure to call your attorney to see if you need it before your order it. More importantly, if you receive such a notice despite not having recorded anything, you may want to follow up with your attorney or an attorney at our firm to make sure that no one has recorded a fraudulent deed against your property.