Title Insurance

Our underwriters are Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, First American Title Insurance Company, Commonwealth Title Insurance Company and Stewart Guaranty Title Insurance Company. We have agency agreements with all of these companies.

FAQ

What is title insurance?

Title insurance protects you from losses that occur from various matters affecting the title to land. There are two basic types of policies: Owner’s title insurance to protect the owner’s interest in the property, and Lender’s title insurance to protect the lender’s security interest against loss due to defects in title not discovered at the time of sale.

If a title examination is performed, why should I have title insurance?

There are many important advantages of having title insurance. If title to your property is challenged, title insurance defends your title and you are not burdened with legal fees and court costs. In the event that a defect to title is found, your ownership is guaranteed to the property and you cannot lose your property.

Even though we perform a detailed title examination with all transactions, an owner’s title policy is necessary to protect your interest in the property because an owner’s title insurance policy will protect you against defects in title that cannot be discovered in a title search an examination. For a more detailed list of why owner’s title insurance is important, click on the 70 Reasons tab above.

If the bank requires a Loan policy, why do I need to buy an Owner’s policy?

The banks’ policy only protects the lender’s interest. The lender will only use the policy if they become the owner through a foreclosure process. You, the property owner, are not protected by a lender’s title insurance policy.

I paid for a title search – why do I need to buy title insurance also?

A title policy insures against many defects which could not be discovered in a title search, as well as insuring against errors made in the title search itself. For a detailed list of why owner’s title insurance is important, click on the 70 Reasons tab above.

Is Owner’s coverage expensive?

No. Owner’s title insurance is a one-time premium and insures your interest in the property for as long as you own the property. Your coverage is based on your purchase price and does not decrease over time. Additionally, if your lender is requiring a lender’s title policy, you will receive a simultaneous issue rate which discounts the cost of the owner’s title policy. Title insurance premiums are regulated by the Louisiana Department of Insurance, so they are the same statewide. If you would like a quote, please call our office.

What do I need to bring to closing?

The main item you will bring to closing are your funds needed for your down payment and closing costs. We strive to inform you of that number as soon as possible, but often changes are made immediately prior to closing or even at the closing table. But rest assured that minor adjustments can easily be handled at the closing table. Louisiana state law provides that all funds exceeding $2,500 must be in the form of certified funds, either a cashier’s check or official bank check. Amounts lower than $2,500 can be handled with a personal check which will be verified during closing. If you have brought too much money to closing, you will refunded the overage at closing.

You will also need a form of photo identification, either a driver’s license or passport is preferred. Our receptionist will obtain a copy of your identification prior to closing.

What takes place at the closing?

It is customary that all parties are present at closing, including the buyer, seller, and their realtors. In some instances, the lender will also attend closing. We begin each closing with a detailed review of the settlement statement to be sure that all parties are OK with the financial end of the transaction. When the dollars are approved, we will sign documents that all parties sign, such as the deed, and any seller specific documents. We then disburse the sales proceeds to the seller and they are free to leave the closing.

After the sellers are finished, we will review the loan documents with the borrower/buyer and sign the loan package. Buying a home or commercial property is one of the most important transactions of your life and we want you to be informed of what you are signing and be comfortable with the terms of your loan and payments. The closing is the time to ask questions that you may still have and to be sure you understand your obligations to the lender.

What takes place after closing?

After closing, the closing documents are sent to the courthouse to be recorded and then forwarded to your lender. You will usually be given a copy of your loan documents at the closing, but shortly after closing, we will send you a copy of your recorded deed and owner’s title insurance policy.

What is a Homestead Exemption and where do I sign up?

If you are purchasing a primary residence, a great benefit is the homestead exemption. In Louisiana, the first $75,000 of the value of your primary residence is not subject to property taxes, but you have to sign up for this benefit. If you are purchasing a home in Ouachita Parish, you can sign your homestead exemption at your closing and we will deliver it for you! If you are purchasing a home in another parish, you will need to take your paperwork to the Tax Assessor in that parish and sign up for your homestead exemption. This is a great benefit that you do not want to miss out on because it saves you money!

70 Reasons

70-Something Ways You Could Lose Your Home

There are many title issues that could cause you to lose your property. Even the most careful search of public records may not disclose the most dangerous threat: hidden risks. These issues may not be uncovered until years later.

Without title insurance from a reputable and financially secure company, your title could be worthless. With the proper insurance, your rights will be defended in court.
Here are some of the issues that occur most frequently:

  • Forged deeds, mortgages, satisfactions or releases
  • Deed by person who is insane or mentally incompetent
  • Deed by minor
  • Deed from corporation, unauthorized under corporate bylaws or given under falsified corporate resolution
  • Deed from partnership, unauthorized partnership agreement
  • Deed from purported trustee, unauthorized under trust agreement
  • Deed to or from a “corporation” before incorporation, or after loss of corporate charter
  • Deed from a legal non-entity (styled, for example, as a church, charity or club)
  • Deed by person in a foreign country, vulnerable to challenge as incompetent, unauthorized or defective under foreign laws.
  • Claims resulting from the use of “alias” or fictitious name style by a predecessor in title
  • Deed challenged as being given under fraud, undue influence or duress
  • Deed following non-judicial foreclosure, where requested procedure was not followed
  • Deed affecting land in judicial proceedings (bankruptcy, receivership, probate, conservatorship, dissolution of marriage), unauthorized by the court
  • Deed following judicial proceedings, subject to appeal or further court order
  • Deed following judicial proceedings, where all necessary parties were not joined
  • Lack of jurisdiction over persons or property in judicial proceedings
  • Deed signed by mistake (grantor did not know what they signed)
  • Deed executed under falsified power of attorney
  • Deed executed under expired power of attorney (death, disability or insanity of principal)
  • Deed apparently valid, but actually delivered after death of grantor or grantee, or without consent of the grantor
  • Deed affecting property purported to be separate property of grantor, which is in fact community or jointly-owned property
  • Undisclosed divorce of one who conveys as sole heir of a deceased former spouse
  • Deed affecting property of deceased person, not joining all heirs
  • Deed following administration of estate of missing person, who later re-appears.
  • Conveyance by heir or survivor of a joint estate, who murdered the decedent
  • Conveyances and proceedings affecting rights of service-member protected by the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act
  • Conveyance void as in violation of public policy (payment of gambling debt, payment for contract to commit crime, or conveyance made in restraint of trade)
  • Deed to land including “wetlands” subject to public trust (vesting title in government to protect public interest in navigation, commerce, fishing and recreation.)
  • Deed from government entity, vulnerable to challenge as unauthorized or unlawful
  • Ineffective release of prior satisfied mortgage due to acquisition of note by bona fide purchaser (without notice of satisfaction)
  • Ineffective release of prior satisfied mortgage due to bankruptcy of creditor prior to recording of release (avoiding powers in bankruptcy)
  • Ineffective release of prior mortgage or lien, as fraudulently obtained by predecessor in title
  • Disputed release of prior mortgage or lien, as given under mistake or misunderstanding.
  • Ineffective subordination agreement, causing junior interest to be reinstated to priority
  • Deed recorded, but not properly indexed so as to be locatable in the land records
  • Undisclosed but recorded federal or state tax lien
  • Undisclosed but recorded judgment or spousal/child support lien
  • Undisclosed but recorded prior mortgage
  • Undisclosed but recorded notice of pending lawsuit affecting land
  • Undisclosed but recorded environmental lien
  • Undisclosed but recorded option, or right of first refusal, to purchase property
  • Undisclosed but recorded covenants or restrictions, with (or without) rights of reverter
  • Undisclosed but recorded easements (for access, utilities, drainage, airspace, views) benefiting neighboring land
  • Undisclosed but recorded boundary, party wall or setback agreements
  • Errors in tax records (mailing tax bill to wrong party resulting in tax sale, or crediting payment to wrong property)
  • Erroneous release of tax or assessment liens, which are later reinstated to the tax rolls
  • Erroneous reports furnished by tax officials (not binding local government)
  • Special assessments which become liens upon passage of a law or ordinance, but before recorded notice of commencement of improvements for which assessment is made.
  • Adverse claim of vendor’s lien
  • Adverse claim of equitable lien
  • Ambiguous covenants or restrictions in ancient documents
  • Misinterpretation of wills, deeds and other instruments
  • Discovery of will of supposed intestate individual, after probate
  • Discovery of later will after probate of first will
  • Erroneous or inadequate legal descriptions
  • Deed to land without a right of access to a public street or road
  • Deed to land with legal access subject to undisclosed but recorded conditions or restrictions
  • Right of access wiped out by foreclosure on neighboring land
  • Patent defects in recorded instruments (for example, failure to attach notarial acknowledgment or a legal description)
  • Defective acknowledgment due to lack of authority of notary (acknowledgment taken before commission or after expiration of commission)
  • Forged notarization or witness acknowledgment
  • Deed not properly recorded (wrong parish, missing pages or other contents, or without required payment)
  • Deed from grantor who is claimed to have acquired the title through fraud upon creditors of a prior owner. In certain instances, an extended coverage policy may be requested to protect against such additional defects as:
  • Deed to a purchaser from one who has previously sold or leased the same land to a third party under an unrecorded contract, where the third party is in possession of the premises.
  • Claimed prescriptive rights, not of record and not disclosed by survey
  • Physical location of easement (underground pipe or sewer line) which does not conform with easement of record
  • Deed to land with improvements encroaching upon land of another.
  • Incorrect survey (misstating location, dimensions, area, easements or improvements upon land)
  • “Mechanics’ lien” claims (securing payment of contractors and material suppliers for improvements) which may attach without recorded notice
  • Federal estate or state inheritance tax liens (may attach without recorded notice)
  • Pre-existing violation of subdivision mapping laws
  • Pre-existing violation of conditions, covenants and restrictions affecting the land.
  • Pre-existing violation of zoning ordinances
  • Post-policy forgery against the insured interest
  • Forced removal of residential improvements due to lack of an appropriate building permit (subject to deductible)
  • Post-policy construction of improvements by a neighbor onto insured land
  • Damage to residential structures from use of the surface of insured land for extraction or development of minerals.

Property Taxes

Please remember to sign for homestead exemption for your new residence. Homestead exemption is permanent and must be signed only once. The only exception to that would be if you failed to pay your taxes and it sold to a tax purchaser. In that case, your homestead exemption would terminate on the date of the sheriff’s tax sale.

Property Tax Information: The State of Louisiana and the local municipalities, if applicable, issue tax bills for immovable property each year in December. It is the current property owner’s responsibility to pay that bill by the last day of December. Failure to pay a tax bill can lead to interest, penalties and loss of rights. Typically, the current year’s tax bill will be pro-rated between buyer and seller at closing and no further adjustments need to be made between the parties. In some instances (typically for lots or homes that are in recently developed subdivisions), the current year’s taxes will not be pro-rated at the time of closing and when this happens it may be the case that a buyer will have to collect a portion of taxes from a seller.

Many property owners have mortgages on their property and those mortgage holders require the property owner to escrow a monthly amount that will cover the cost of the annual taxes. This tax amount is typically based on the previous year’s tax amount. This is due to the fact that the tax assessor does not make the current year’s assessments available until December. If the previous year’s tax amount was based on unimproved property (no house or other structure yet built on the property) there is a chance that the amount escrowed each month for property taxes will be short the actual amount due. In the event that there is a shortage it is still the responsibility of the property owner to make up the escrow shortage.

It is very important that each property owner make sure their taxes are paid by December 31st of every year. Penalties and interest begin to accrue on January 1 of the next year.

Your taxes can be paid in the parish where your property is located at the following locations:

Caldwell Parish Tax Assessor
201 Main Street
Columbia, Louisiana 71418
Phone: 318-649-2636
Fax: 318-649-2616
Jackson Parish Tax Assessor
500 East Court Street, Room 101
Jonesboro, Louisiana 71251
Phone: 318-259-2151
Fax: 318-259-5672
Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor
100 West Texas Street
Ruston, Louisiana 71213
Phone: 318-251-5140
Fax: 318-251-5142
Email: Jones@lincolnparish.org
Website: http://www.assessor.lincolnparish.org/
Morehouse Parish Tax Assessor
100 East Madison Street
Bastrop, Louisiana 71220
Phone: 318-281-1802
Fax: 318-281-8601
Email: nedoow@bellsouth.net
Website: http://www.morehouseassessor.org
Richland Parish Tax Assessor
708 South Julia Street, Room 115
Rayville, Louisiana 71269
Phone: 318-728-4491
Fax: 318-728-6478
Union Parish Tax Assessor
100 East Bayou Street, Suite 103
Farmerville, Louisiana 71241
Phone: 318-368-3232
Fax: 318-368-8010
Email: upassessor@aol.com
Website: http://www.unionparishassessor.com

Louisiana Closings

THE LOUISIANA CLOSING PROCESS

For all buyers, the day you have been waiting for:  CLOSING!

Home buyers have gone through the tough part:  looking for and deciding on a new home; selecting their lender and going through the loan process; getting inspections and insurance and finally, the big day is comes.  THE CLOSING.  So what can you expect at closing and what to bring?

The main item you will bring is funds needed for your down payment and closing costs.   That figure is available prior to closing, although sometimes, minor adjustments are made immediately prior to closing.  In any event, the minor adjustments can easily be handled at the closing table.  Louisiana state law provides that all amounts needed over $2500 must be in the form of a bank official or cashier’s check.  Amounts lower can usually be handled by a personal check which will be verified during closing. And should your certified funds be in excess of that needed for closing, you will be refunded any overage.  So exactly what takes place at closing?  First, customarily, all parties are present: buyers, sellers, realtors and of course, the closing agent.  Most lenders do not actually attend the closing.  In our office, we begin with a careful review of the settlement statement to be sure that all parties are okay with the financial end of the transaction.  When the dollars are approved, we then disburse the sales proceeds to the seller and let them leave if they choose. We then proceed to a careful review of the buyer’s loan package.  It is your money that is being borrowed, and we want you, the buyer, to be entirely comfortable with the terms of your loan.  The closing is the time to be sure that the loan that you are getting is the loan you were expecting.

After the closing, the closing documents are sent to the courthouse for recording. They are then forwarded to your lender.  You will usually be given copy of your loan documents at closing, but shortly after closing, we send you a copy of your recorded deed and owner’s title insurance policy.  It is very important that you then visit the Parish Assessor and sign the homestead exemption.  That one act can and will save you substantial dollars annually.  We hope this very brief explanation is of some help to you. Our goal on every closing is for all parties to leave the closing table satisfied that each have been treated fairly, courteously and professionally.  If you have any questions whatsoever, please give us a call. We look forward to seeing you at the closing table.

Definitions

Abstract Of Title
An abstract is a copy of all documents recorded in any of the various Clerks of Court offices —— which affect the legal right to ownership of immovable property. These generally include copies of those recorded acts that are translative of title (ownership was transferred) and those acts that created encumbrances (such as a mortgage) on the property.
Administrator
A person appointed by the court to settle the estate of a person who has died intestate – that is, leaving no will, or one whose estate is so large that some of its debts and assets are ongoing.
American Land Title Association (ALTA)
An association of title insurance companies whose members usually insure lenders against defects in the borrower’s title to property which is pledged as security for a loan. The ALTA policy is an extended coverage policy in that it insures the lender against title defects, such as unrecorded documents.
Assessment
A charge against real estate made by a unit of government to cover the cost of an improvement, such as a street or sewer, or real estate property taxes.
Assignment Of Lease
The transfer of all title, right and interest that a lessee possesses in certain real property. The document used to convey a leasehold is called an “Assignment of Lease” rather than a Deed.
Attestation
The act of witnessing another’s signing of an instrument, performed by a subscribing witness.
Beneficiary
A person who receives and benefits from the gifts or acts of another, such as one who is designated to receive the proceeds from a will.
Bequeath
To leave personal property to another by will. Bequest is the noun form.
Bonafide
In good faith. A bonafide purchaser is one who acquires in good faith and for a valuable consideration without knowledge, actual or constructive, of the prior rights or equities of third parties.
Bond For Deed
A Louisiana contract to sell real estate in which the purchase price is paid in installments and title is transferred after the payments are made in full. In other states, Bond for Deed is called Contract for Deed or Land Contract.
Boundaries
The perimeters or limits of a parcel of land as fixed by legal descriptions which, in Hawaii, is usually a metes and bounds description.
By-Laws
Regulations, rules, or laws adopted by an association or corporation for its management and operation. Such By-laws must set forth the manner of selection of the Board of Directors, the association’s duties and obligations and the requirements for calling meetings, which govern the activities of the project. Approval of at least 75% of the apartment owners is required to modify or amend the condominium By-laws. Any modification or amendment must be set forth in an amendment to the declaration which amendment is duly recorded at the Bureau of Conveyances.
Chain Of Title
A term applied to the past series of transactions and documents affecting the title to a particular parcel of land.
Chattel
Personal property, such as household goods or fixtures, machinery, etc.
Cloud On Title
Any document, claim, unreleased lien or encumbrance which may impair or injure the title to property or make the title doubtful because of its apparent or possible validity. Clouds on title are usually revealed by the title search, and may be removed from the record by a quitclaim deed or a quiet title proceeding. While the cloud remains, the owner is usually prevented from conveying a marketable title. An example of a cloud on title is as follows: where a property is sold without the wife releasing her dower interest.
Co-Tenancy
A form of concurrent property ownership in which two or more persons own an undivided interest in the same property.
Codicil
A supplement or addition to a will which normally does not revoke the entire will. A codicil must be executed with the same formalities as a will and be witnessed by two disinterested persons.
Commercial Lease
Written as a tenancy for years with three major types: (1.) Net Lease; (2.)Gross Lease; (3.) Percentage Lease.
Common Elements
Parts of the property which are necessary or convenient to the existence, maintenance and safety of the condominium, or are normally in common used by all of the condominium residents. All condominium owners have an undivided ownership interest in the common elements. Maintenance of the common elements is paid for by the condominium association, and each owner must pay a monthly maintenance assessment, prorated according to his individual common interest. Typical examples of common elements are elevators, load bearing walls, hallways, swimming pool and driveways.
Common Expense
The operating expenses of a condominium of property, together with all other sums designated as common expenses by or pursuant to the Declaration, or the By-Laws.
Common Interest
The percentage of undivided ownership in the common elements belonging to each condominium apartment, as established in the condominium declaration. The applicable percentage is usually computed as the ratio of the square footage of the building, or as the ratio of the apartment’s purchase price to the total sales price of all the apartment units. The percentage of common interest determines an owner’s interest in the common elements, the amount the owner will be assessed for maintenance and operation of the common properties, the real estate tax levied against an individual unit, and the number of votes an owner has in the condominium association.
Condemnation
Either a judicial or administrative proceeding to exercise the power of eminent domain, i.e., the power of the government to take private property for public use. In the taking of private property for public use, a fee simple estate or any lesser right, such as an easement, may be acquired. Private property may be taken without the consent of the owner, whose only judicial complaints may be that the land was not taken for a sufficient public use, or, that just compensation was not paid.
Condominium Association
An association of the owners of a condominium, usually in an unincorporated association form, whose main purpose is to control, regulate and maintain the common elements in the condominium.
Condominium Map
The detailed site plan containing the layout, location, unit numbers and dimensions of the condominium units, which is filed for recordation at the Bureau of Conveyances when the declaration is recorded.
Condominium Ownership
An estate in real property consisting of an individual interest in an apartment unit and an undivided common interest in the common areas such as the land. Each condominium unit is a statutory entity which may be mortgaged, taxed, sold or otherwise transferred in ownership, separately and independently of all other units in the structure.
Condominium Property Regime (CPR)
The name given to the laws pertaining to condominiums in the State of Louisiana and designated the “Condominium Property Act”, permitting ownership of a specified horizontal layer of air space as opposed to the traditional method of vertical ownership of property from earth below to the sky above. In a condominium, the horizontal planes appear as the floor and ceiling and the vertical planes appear as the walls.
Consideration
That which is given in exchange for something from another. Consideration is usually something of value, such as the purchase price in money, though it may be personal services or exchanged property. There should be a recital of consideration in a deed, as presumptive evidence that something of value was given for the realty.
Convey
The act of deeding or transferring title to another.
Conveyance
An instrument by which an interest in real property is transferred.
Corporation
An artificial person or legal entity, created under state law, consisting of an association of individuals, but regarded in law as having an existence and personality separate and distinct from such individuals. The main characteristics of a corporation are: (1) perpetual existence, that is, the corporation exists indefinitely and only ceases to exist when and if it is properly dissolved through legal proceedings; (2) centralized management in the Board of Directors; (3) liability of a shareholder limited to the amount of his investment; (4) free transferability of shares. A corporation has independent capacity to contract and to hold title to real property consistent with the powers given it in its articles of incorporation. It is important to verify that the articles have been filed and the corporation has in fact been legally formed, otherwise a deed is invalid for lack of grantee.
Covenant
A written agreement or promise of two or more parties by which either pledges to perform or not to perform specified acts on a property, or which specifies certain uses or non use of the property. Breach of a covenant gives rise to a claim for damages.
Covenant And Conditions
Covenants are promises contained in contracts or documents, the breach of which would entitle a person to damages. Conditions, on the other hand, are contingencies, qualifications or occurrences upon which an estate or property right would be gained or lost. Because it is a limitation only and does not create an obligation, failure of the condition to occur will not entitle either party to damages against the other party. A condition, upon its occurrence or happening, may mean a loss of a right or an estate may be terminated.
Declaration
The legal document which the developer of a condominium must record in the Conveyance Records of the Parish in which the property is located, in order to create a condominium under the Condominium Act.
Declaration Of Restrictions
A statement of all the covenants, conditions and restrictions which affect a parcel of land. They usually aim at a general plan of development and require all lot owners to comply with certain building standards. Once recorded, these restrictions in the Declaration run with the land, and bind all future lot owners. Any owner can enforce the restrictions against an owner who violates any of the restrictions.
Deficiency Judgment
A judgment against a borrower, endorser or guarantor for the balance of the debt issued when the security for a loan is insufficient to satisfy the debt. A deficiency occurs when the foreclosure sale of a property produces less than the amount needed to pay the costs and expenses of the action and to satisfy the obligations secured by the foreclosed mortgage. For such deficiency, a personal judgment is entered against the original mortgagor. This judgment operates as a lien on the judgment debtor’s assets and is enforceable and collectible in the same manner as any judgment at law.
Demise
A conveyance of an estate or interest in real property to another for years, for life, or at will – most commonly for years, as in a lease. A lease often refers to the “demised” premises. The use of the word demise often implies a covenant of quiet enjoyment by which the lessor undertakes to guarantee that the lessee will not be disturbed in his use of the premises by superior claims of others.
Description
The portion of a conveyance document which defines the property being transferred. Documents such as deeds, assignments of lease and mortgages must contain a full legal description of the property to be valid.
Devise
A transfer of real property under a will. The donor is the devisor and the recipient is the devisee. Where there is no will, the real property “descends” to the heirs.
Dominant Estate
The estate which is said to attach to and derive benefit from the servient estate in reference to an easement appurtenant, as where an easement road passes over an owner’s land (the servient estate) to give access to an adjacent parcel (the dominant estate). The dominant estate usually adjoins the servient estate. The land receiving the benefit of an easement.
Easement
A property interest which one person has in land owned by another entitling the holder of the interest to limited use or enjoyment of the other’s land. Easements are either appurtenant or in gross.
Egress
A way to exit from a property.
Eminent Domain
The right of the government, both state and federal to take private property for a necessary public use, with just compensation paid to the owner. The state may delegate the power of Eminent Domain to local governments and to public corporations and associations such as school districts. No private property is exempt from this exercise of governmental power.
Encroachment
An unauthorized invasion or intrusion of a fixture or other real property wholly or partly upon another’s property, thus reducing the size and value of the invaded property. An encroachment is a “trespass” if it encroaches on the land, and a “nuisance” if it violates the neighbor’s air space, such as the overhanging branches of a tree. An accurate land survey will disclose most encroachments, and is usually required by lenders and buyers of any substantial parcel of real property. Encroachments are not normally revealed in the chain of title, and thus, are not warranted against in a Certificate of Title.
Encumber
To burden a parcel of land with a lien or charge such as a mortgage, tax lien or easement.
Encumbrance
Any claim. lien, charge or liability attached to and binding real property which may lessen the value of the property but will not necessarily prevent transfer of title.
Estate
The decree, quantity, nature and extent of ownership interest which a person has in real property. To be an estate, an interest must be one that is (or may become) possessory, and whose ownership is measured in terms of duration. Also, an estate can be the property owned by a decedent and which may be subject to federal and state tax probate administration.
Exception
As used in a conveyance of real property, an exception is the exclusion from the conveyance of some part of the property granted. The title to that with drawn part remains in the grantor by virtue of his original title.
Executor
A person appointed by a testator to carry out the directions and requests in his last will and testament, and to dispose of his property according to the provisions of the will. A female executor is called an executrix. The executor is entitled to possession and control of the testator’s real estate pending determination of heirs and distribution of the property.
Federal Tax Lien
A federal lien which attaches to real property either if the federal estate tax is not paid, or if the taxpayer has violated the federal income tax or payroll tax laws.
Fee Simple
The largest estate one can possess in real property. A fee simple estate is the least limited interest and the most complete and absolute ownership inland. It is of indefinite duration, freely transferable and inheritable. The phrase “fee simple absolute” came about because the estate is of potentially infinite duration (thus “fee”); there are no limitations on its inheritability (thus “simple”); and it is indefeasible and cannot be divested (thus “absolute”).
Financing Statement
A brief document (required under the Uniform Commercial Code – UCC) filed at the any Parish Clerk of Court office to perfect or establish a creditor’s security interest in a chattel. It is important in real estate to protect the creditor’s interest in personal property which is security for a debt, but which becomes a fixture when attached to realty. When filed, the Financing Statement is effective for 5 years from the date of filing and lapses upon expiration of that period unless extended by a Continuation Statement filed any time within the six-month period proceeding the expiration of the 5 year period.
Foreclosure
A legal procedure whereby property used as security for a debt is sold to satisfy the debt in the event of default in payment of the mortgage note or default of other terms in the mortgage document. The foreclosure procedure brings the rights of all parties to a conclusion, and the title in the mortgaged property to either the holder of the mortgage or a third party purchasing the realty at the foreclosure sale, free of all encumbrances affecting the property subsequent to the foreclosed mortgage.
Ground Lease
A lease of land alone, sometimes secured by improvements placed upon the land. The ground lease is a means used to separate the ownership of land from the ownership of the buildings and improvements constructed on the land. In Hawaii, it is a lease creating a tenancy for years, typically for a term of 55 years.
Guardian
One who is given the lawful custody and care of another (called a ward). The ward might be a minor, an insane person or a spendthrift. The guardian may upon court approval sell the ward’s property, if it is in the best interest of the ward. The grantee would receive valid title under a guardian’s deed. A “Guardian Ad Litem” is one appointed by a court to bring or defend a legal action on behalf of his ward.
Heir
A person who inherits under a will or a person who succeeds to property by the laws of descent if the decendent dies without a will.
Indemnity
Security against loss or damage. To indemnify is to compensate for incurred loss or damage.
Ingress
The way into a property.
Intestate
To die without a valid will. The decedent’s property passes to his heirs according to the priorities set forth under the laws of descent.
Joint Tenancy
A form of property ownership by two or more persons in which the joint tenants have one and the same interest, arising by one of the same conveyance, commencing at one and the same time and held by one and the same possession (the concept of the “four unities”). A distinctive feature of the joint tenancy is the right of survivorship by which the surviving joint tenant(s) succeeds to the interest of the deceased joint tenant. No probate proceedings are necessary.
Joint Venture
A partnership formed by two or more persons having as members one or more general partners and one or more limited partners. The limited partners are not bound by the general obligations of the partnership since they are limited in their liability up to the amount of their investment (similar to shareholders in a corporation). The management and operation of the partnership business is under the exclusive control of the general partners;in fact, the limited partners can lose the limited liability by participating to any degree in the management of the partnership.
Judgment
A lien binding on all the real estate of a judgment debtor and giving the holder of the judgment a right to levy (to seize) the land for satisfaction of his judgment. A judgment is effective for 10 years.
Land
The surface of the earth extending down to the center and upward to the sky, including all natural things thereon such as trees, crops or water; plus the minerals below the surface and the air rights above.
Land Patent
A Patent that was issued upon payment of commutation to the government by the awardee of a Land Commission Award. Such Land Patent on the Award conveyed no title, but merely indicated that the government’s interest in the land had been settled.
Lease
A lease is both a contract between lessor (landlord) and lessee (tenant)and a conveyance or demise of the premises by the lessor to the lessee. A lease is a contract in that it embodies the agreement between the parties. The main elements of a lease contract are: (1) the names of the lessor and lessee; (2) an agreement to let and an agreement to take the premises; (3) a statement of the permitted use of the property; (4) description of the premises; (5) the beginning date and duration of the term and (6) the payment of rent. The lease is also a conveyance in that the agreement involves the creation of an estate in land, that is, the right to possession and use for a period of time.
Leasehold
A less than freehold estate which a tenant possesses in real property. In a lease situation, the tenant possesses a leasehold and the landlord possesses the reversion estate; i.e. when the lease terminates, the property will revert to the landlord.
Legal Description
A description that is complete enough that an independent surveyor could locate and identify a specific piece of real property. A legal description is required on all deeds, leases, assignment of leases and mortgages and issued in most agreements of sale. Street addresses, tax bill descriptions and general descriptions are inadequate to use in recorded title documents since many years hence the streets may not exist and obvious difficulties would arise for someone searching the chain of title or trying to locate the property. Under Hawaii’s condominium law, however, a post office address description is sufficient in a deed or master lease since the legal description has been included in the recorded declaration.
Lien
A charge or claim which one person (as with a tax lien or) has upon the property of another (lienee) as security for a debt or obligation. Liens can be created by agreement of the parties (as with a mortgage) or by operation of law (as with a tax lien). They may be general (thus affecting all the debtor’s property, as in a judgment lien) or specific (thus affecting only a particular property, as in a mortgage given on one piece of property). Liens can be statutory or equitable, voluntary, or involuntary. For example, a mechanics lien is an involuntary, statutory, special lien, where as a mortgage is a voluntary, equitable, special lien.
Limited Common Elements
That special class of common elements in a condominium reserved for the use of certain apartment(s) to the exclusion of other apartments. This would include assigned parking stalls, storage units, or any common areas and facilities available for use of more than one but less than all unit owners.
Limited Partnership
A partnership formed by two or more persons having as members one or more general partners and one or more limited partners. The limited partners are not bound by the general obligations of the partnership since they are limited in their liability up to the amount of their investment (similar to shareholders in a corporation). The management and operation of the partnership business is under the exclusive control of the general partners; in fact, the limited partners can lose the limited liability by participating to any degree in the management of the partnership.
Lis Pendens
A legal document recorded in the Conveyance records, which gives constructive notice that an action as been filed in either a state or federal court affecting a particular piece of property. “Lis Pendens” is a Latin term which means “action pending” and is in the nature of a quasi-lien. A notice of Lis Pendens is not the same as placing a lien on or attaching real property. It is only notice of a pending action involving title or possession of real property.
Marketable Title
Good or clear title reasonably free from risk of litigation over possible defects. Marketable title need not, however, be perfect title. Rather it is a title not subject to such reasonable doubt as would create a just apprehension of invalidity in the mind of a person of reasonable prudence and intelligence.
Mechanic’S Lien
A statutory lien created in favor of material men and mechanics to secure payment for materials supplied and services rendered in the improvement, repair or maintenance of real property.
Metes And Bounds
A common method of land description that identifies a property by specifying the shape and boundary dimensions of the parcel, using terminal points an dangles. A metes and bounds description starts at a well-marked point of beginning and follows the boundaries of the land by courses and metes (measures, distances and compass direction) and bounds (landmarks, monuments) and returns to the true point of beginning.
Notary Public
A public officer whose function is to administer oaths; to attest and certify documents by his signature and official seal, giving them credit and authenticity; to take acknowledgments of deeds and other conveyances.
Option
An agreement to keep open, over a set period, an offer to sell or purchase property. The option must be supported by its own actual consideration, separate and independent from the purchase price of the property. A mere recital of consideration alone is not sufficient except in a lease option situation, in which the provisions of the lease are themselves sufficient consideration to support the option. The option must contain all the essential terms of the underlying contract of sale so that a complete binding contract is created immediately upon the optionee’s election to exercise his right to purchase or sell. If the optionee elects not to exercise the option, the option or keeps the option money and neither party is obligated to perform. Since “time is of the essence” in an option agreement, the option automatically expires if not exercised prior to the termination date. An option is not an interest in land and therefore not capable of comprising the security for a mortgage.
Parcel
A specific portion of a larger tract; a lot. A parcel is indicated on a Parish Assessor’si tax map by tax key number, and includes the name of the owner or owners, area dimensions, title, and lot number. In a tax map key number such as 4-5-019-072, the “72” represents the parcel number and is usually double underlined on the tax map.
Partnership
An association of two or more persons to carry on as co-owners of a business for profit (as defined in the Title 11 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes).
Personal Property
Things that are tangible and movable; property that is not classified as real property; chattels; personality. Title to personal property is transferred by way of a bill of sale, as contrasted with a deed for real property.
Plat
A map of a town, section, or subdivision indicating the location and boundaries of individual properties. In a tax map key number description such as 4-5-019-072, the “019” represents the plat.
Point Of Beginning
The starting point in a metes and bounds description of property which is usually a street intersection or a specific monument. To effectively complete a legal description of a property, the description must always return to the point of beginning, in order to enclose the described area.
Power Of Attorney
A written instrument authorizing a person (the attorney-in-fact) to act as the agent on behalf of another to the extent indicated in the instrument.
Probate
The formal judicial proceeding to prove or confirm the validity of a will. The will is presented to the probate court, and creditors and interested parties are notified to present their claims or to show cause why provisions of the will should not be enforced by the court. Title to real property vests in the heirs or devisee, without the need for any court order, usually upon proof of the validity of the will. Even if the decedent dies without a will, his estate is still subject to a probate action. The court determines the rightful heirs, pays legal claims of creditors, and appoints an administrator to distribute the real and personal property according to the court’s decree.
Property
The rights or interests a person has in the thing he owns; not in the technical sense, the thing itself. These rights include the right to possess, to use, to encumber, to transfer and to exclude. Property is either real or personal.
Proprietary Lease
A written lease in a cooperative apartment building, between the owner-corporation and the tenant-stockholder, in which the tenant is given the right to occupy a particular unit. In Hawaii, the cooperative form of ownership has been replaced in popularity by the condominium.
Quiet Enjoyment
The right of a new owner or lessee legally in possession to uninterrupted use of the property without interference from the former owner, lessor or any third party claiming superior title.
Quiet Title Action
A circuit court action intended to establish or settle the title to a particular property, especially where there is a cloud on the title. All parties with a possible claim or interest in the property must be joined in the action. A quiet title action is frequently used by an adverse possessor to substantiate his title since official record title makes it easier to convey the property. Once the judgment or decree of the court has been recorded in the Conveyance Records, proper record notice of the claimant’s right and interest in the property is established.
Real Estate
The physical land and appurtenances, including any structures; for all practical purposes synonymous with real property.
Real Property
All land and appurtenances to land, including buildings, structures, fixtures, fences, and improvements erected upon or affixed to the same; excluding, however, growing crops. The term “real property” refers to the interests, benefits and rights inherent in the ownership of real estate.
Recording
The act of entering into the book of public records the written instruments affecting the title to real property, such as deeds, mortgages, contracts of sale, options, assignments, and the like.
Reservation
The creation, in behalf of the grantor, of a new right issuing out of the thing granted. A reservation thus is something which did not exist as an independent right before the conveyance.
Restrictions
Limitations on the use of property. Private restrictions are created by means of restrictive covenants written into real property instruments, such as deeds and leases. Public restrictions are created by means of zoning and ordinances; unlike private restrictions, they must tend to promote the public health, welfare and safety.
Restrictive Covenant
A private agreement, usually contained in a deed, which restricts the use and occupancy of real property. Such a covenant is said to run with the land and binds all subsequent purchasers, their heirs and assigns; and normally covers such things as lot size, building lines, type of architecture, and uses to which the property may be put.
Right Of Survivorship
The distinctive characteristic of a joint tenancy (also a tenancy by the entirety) by which the surviving joint tenant(s) succeeds to all right, title and interest of the deceased joint tenant without the need for probate proceedings.
Right-Of-Way
The right or privilege, acquired through accepted usage or by contract, to pass over a designated portion of the property of another. A right-of-way may be either private, as in an access easement given a neighbor, or public, as in the right of the public to use the highways or to have safe access to public beaches.
Running With The Land
Rights or covenants which bind or benefit successive owners of a property are said to “run with the land,” such as restrictive building covenants in a recorded deed which would affect all future owners of the property. Also, an easement appurtenant runs with the land and thus passes to a succeeding owner even if it is not specified in the deed.
Servient Estate
Land on which an easement exists in favor of an adjacent property (called a dominate estate); also referred to as a servient tenement. If property “A”has a right of way across property “B”, property “B” is the servient estate.
Special Lien
A lien or charge against a specific parcel of property, such as a mortgage, attachment or mechanic’s lien.
Sublease
A lease given by a lessee for a portion of the leasehold interest but retaining some reversionary interest in the lessee. The sublease may be for all or part of the premises, for the whole term or for part of it. Leases normally contain a clause prohibiting subletting without prior consent of the lessor. The lessee remains directly liable to the lessor for the rent. The sublessee does not have a contractual obligation to pay rent to the original lessor.
Tax Lien
A general statutory lien imposed against real property for failure to pay taxes. There are federal tax liens and state tax liens. The state tax lien for unpaid real property taxes has priority over all other liens on the property, regardless of whether all such liens were recorded prior to the recording of the state tax lien.
Tax Maps
Maps drawn to scale showing location of real property, tax keys, size, shape and dimensions, etc., for convenience of identification, valuation and assessment. These maps are kept in tax map books, prepared by the Tax Assessor for each Parish.
Tenancy By The Entirety
A special joint tenancy between a lawfully married husband and wife or recipical beneficiaries, which places title to the property into the unit, with both tenants having an equal, undivided interest in the whole property. Upon the death of one tenant, the survivor succeeds to the entire property to the exclusion of heirs and creditors of the deceased tenant and without the need for probate. A tenancy by the entirety differs from a joint tenancy in that neither spouse can convey his or her interest or force a partition during the lifetime of the other, without the consent of the other spouse. It can only be severed by mutual agreement, divorce, serving the recipical beneficiary relationship or joint conveyance.
Tenancy In Common
A form of concurrent ownership of property between two or more persons, in which each has an undivided interest in the whole property. Each co-tenant is entitled to the undivided possession of the property, according to his proportionate share and subject to the rights of possession of the other tenants. Their interests may be equal (as in joint tenancy) or unequal. Where the conveyance document does not specify the extent of interest of each co-tenant, there is a presumption that the shares are equal. There is no rights of survivorship. Any tenant in common can sell his interest in the property without the consent of his co-tenants.
Tenancy In Severalty
Ownership of property vested in one person alone, and not held jointly with another, also called Several Tenancy or Sole Tenancy. When the sole owner dies the property is probated and passes to his heirs or devisee.
Tenant
One who holds or possesses property. Commonly used to refer to a lessee under a lease.
Title
The right to or ownership of land, also, the evidence of ownership. The title to property encompasses all that bundle of rights an owner possesses, the totality of rights and property possessed by a person. Title may be held individually, jointly or in corporate or partnership form.
Title Insurance
Insurance against loss or damage resulting from defects or failure of title to a particular parcel of real property. Under the contract of indemnity the title company agrees to reimburse the insured for any loss he sustains if title is not as represented in the policy.
Title Examination Or Search
An examination of the public records to determine what, if any, defects there are in the chain of title. The title search is usually performed by an experienced title company.
Title Opinion
The written opinion of a licensed Louisiana Attorney regarding the merchantability of title, based upon the title examination. It is commonly written to a lending institution, which will rely on the title opinion for the validity and ranking of its mortgage.
Trust
An arrangement where by legal title to property is transferred by the grantor(or settle or) to a third person called a trustee, to be held and managed by the person for the benefit of another called a beneficiary. The beneficiary holds equitable title.
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UCC-3

Undivided Interest
That interest a co-owner has in property which gives him a right to possession of the whole property along with the other co-owners. The undivided interest may be equal, or unequal. No owner has the right to any specific part of the whole.
Vendee
The purchaser of realty; the buyer. The buyer under an agreement of sale.
Vendor
The seller of realty. The seller under an agreement of sale.
Vest
To own or indicate ownership of lands. “Title may be said to ‘vest’ in John Brown.”
Warranty
An agreement and assurance by the grantor of real property for himself and his heirs, to the effect that he is the owner and will defend the title given.
Will
A written instrument disposing of property upon the death of the maker (the testator). A will takes effect only upon the testator’s death, not during his life, and thus can be revoked or amended at anytime during the estator’s life.

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