Title to real estate in Mississippi is controlled by various documents that either directly impact ownership or indirectly impact the owner’s interest in property. Those that directly impact title to property include deeds, court orders and deaths. Indirect impacts to an owner’s title can be caused by liens, incorrectly filed deeds, court orders, death and erroneous legal descriptions of land.
Property is normally transferred by execution of a Deed, which can take different forms. Some transactions are done by execution of a Quit Claim Deed, which can be basically be described as an “as-is” sale. More common is the execution of a Warranty Deed, which provides the purchaser with assurance that the seller actually owns the property and has the authority to convey it. Transfer of property is also done by court order. For example, a probate or administration process may result in the transfer of property ownership as will a legal proceeding to partition, or divide, jointly owned property. Divorces also commonly result in a court order that impacts one’s ownership of property, although the orders are normally followed by the execution of a deed.
Title to property can be very complex and small errors in documents executed many years earlier will affect current title to property. For example, in purchasing land, a buyer may believe that the seller has the authority to sell the property but years later, may find out that the seller actually conveyed the property to someone else first. Such a situation can result in a lot of expense to a purchaser but can normally be avoided by obtaining a title search and purchasing title insurance. The title search will reveal defects in title and the title insurance will provide a remedy to fix the title if defects are later discovered, at no cost to the purchaser. Purchasers will sometimes decline title insurance to save a little money at closing but the cost of curing a title defect will greatly exceed the cost of title insurance so it is really not something that a buyer should do without.
Land transactions should be handled with care and by an attorney that understands the complexities of title. Property is often the largest asset owned by a family or business. It is critical that the asset is properly owned and titled so that the asset is available for use as the purchaser intends.