The Probate Pro has extensive experience in the quiet title process correcting the chain of title for hundreds of files each year . For some, it may seem odd that there is an intersection of the processes of quiet title and probate. However, quiet title and probate go together like Abbott and Costello or spaghetti and meatballs.
Quiet Title and Probate: What is a Quiet Title?
The process of quiet title involves correcting (or quieting) a title issue to real estate. A title issue can arise in many different forms.
Some common examples of title defects include:
- A missing deed or gap in the chain of title
- An outstanding lien or mortgage that was never released or discharged
- A property bought at a Tax Sale
- A Dispute among two parties regarding ownership of the land
- A borrower’s failure to probate an estate
Each deed that is signed conveying real estate from person “A” to person “B” is recorded in a record at the county’s register of deeds. The collection of all of the deeds recorded relative to a certain parcel make up its “title.” Title to real estate is like a chain on a bicycle. If all of the links of the chain are in perfect order then the bicycle moves smoothly (and the title is said to be clear). If a link is out of order or missing, the chain of title is said to be defective.
A Quiet Title process is a lawsuit filed in the circuit court to correct the defect. The lawsuit should name any of the undischarged interest in the chain of title. At the conclusion of the lawsuit, a judgment to quiet title is entered by the court. This judgment terminates all of the interests of the named defendants. It is recorded with the register of deeds in the same manner as a deed or mortgage would be recorded. A correctly litigated quiet title action will correct all of the title defects.
Often, a quiet title action may be necessary when two parties dispute who is the rightful owner of a property.
Michigan’s quiet title statute, MCL 600.2932, provides for the legal authority to commence actions to quiet title. The statute specifically grants broad authority for actions to quiet title and does no provide a limitation on the legal theories available.
The statutes states:
Any person, whether he is in possession of the land in question or not, who claims any right in, title to, equitable title to, interest in, or right to possession of land, may bring an action in the circuit courts against any other person who claims or might claim any interest inconsistent with the interest claimed by the plaintiff, whether the defendant is in possession of the land or not.
The statute also identifies that the circuit court is the appropriate jurisdiction for actions to quiet title. This should suggest a limitation as to the federal courts’ jurisdictional authority for actions to quiet title for those actions in which the federal court would be the appropriate jurisdiction.
Quiet Title and Probate: What is Probate?
A common scenario occurs when a family member dies. Many people mistakenly believe that upon the death of the family member their home automatically passes to the family. Often, many years go by before this mistaken belief becomes a realized problem. The issue is further exacerbated by the misconception that if a family member dies with a properly executed Last Will and Testament that gifts the house to someone, that there is no need to probate the estate.
At the time that the property is to be sold (or mortgaged), a title search will reveal that the title is still held by the decedent and there is a need to quiet title to the house. This type of quiet title is different from the types described above. This is where the intersection of quiet title and probate meet.
The probate court rather than the circuit court is the forum used to correct the chain of title. The estate is probated and with appropriate authority title to the property is conveyed from the decedent to the correct party.
Quiet Title and Probate: Recording of the Documents
At the conclusion of a quiet title action or the completion of a probate action, the relevant title documents (judgment to quiet title or deeds) are recorded at the register of deeds in the county in which the property is situated. The proper recording of the documents at the register of deeds provides evidence and notice of ownership.
Quiet Title and Probate: Contact The Probate Pro