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Frequently Asked Questions

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Q 1:  What is dower?

Q 2:  How does dower affect the signing of deeds, mortgages and leases longer than three years?

Q 3:  What if the property is only in one spouse's name?
Q 4:  What if one spouse prior to marriage owned the property?
Q 5:  Can a spouse transfer all of their dower rights to their other spouse to avoid having to sign deeds, mortgages and leases in the future?
Q 6:  How can dower be terminated?
Q 7:  In light of all of the above, what is the general rule for signing of documents by spouses?
Q 8:  What is Title Insurance?
Here's your answer:
A 1:  Dower is, technically speaking, the right of a spouse to receive a life estate in one-third of the real estate owned by his or her spouse during their lifetime.  This is a right, which came from the common law of England and was intended to protect a spouse from being left without ownership of any assets the death of their other spouse.
A 2:   Dower means that both spouses must sign deeds, mortgages and leases.
A 3:   Both spouses must sign; the spouse whose name is on the property signs to convey it and the spouse whose name is not on the property signs to release dower.
A 4:  Both spouses must still sign, since dower rights belong to the other spouse immediately upon marriage.
A 5:  No.  Releases of dower can only occur in conjunction with the signing of a deed, mortgage, or lease.
A 6:  Dower can only be terminated in one of three ways

      1. Signing of the document by the spouse-releasing dower.

      2. Divorce of dissolution of marriage.
      3. Death of a spouse.
A 7:   If one or both spouses own property and wish to sell, mortgage or lease the property, both spouses will need to sign the deed, mortgage or lease.
A 8:  Fire insurance protects you against losses from fire. Collision insurance guards you against the cost of a damaged car. Theft insurance - well, you get the idea. Title insurance protects your title to real estate that you are about to acquire. To understand why title protection is essential, we need to consider real estate for a moment.

Your Ownership of Real Estate.
Real Estate has always been considered man's most valuable possession. It is so basic a form of wealth that many special laws have been enacted to protect ownership of land and the buildings which stand on the land.

You should realize whenever you buy property that the owner who is selling it to you has extremely strong rights as do his family and heirs. Also, there may be others - in addition to the owner - who have "rights" in the property you are going to buy, perhaps governmental bodies, or contractors, for example.

Some of the things a title search uncovers are any unpaid taxes or mortgages, judgments against previous owners, easements, and many other court actions or recorded documents which can affect title to real estate. We find and report such defects in the title to the real estate you wish to buy, so that these matters can be corrected and cleared up. It is the first benefit you receive when title insurance is ordered.

Protecting You Against Hidden Risks.
Protection against loss from claims on real estate which cannot be discovered by examination of the public records is the second part of the twofold benefit which the Title policy provides.

For example, the title to the home which you have paid for - and to which you have received a deed - could be threatened or lost by such circumstances as a forgery, confusion due to similar names, or error in the records. These contingencies will be covered in your policy of title insurance.

How Does a Title Insurance Policy Protect Against These Dangers?
If a claim is made against your title as covered by your policy, the title protects you by:

   Defending your title, in court if necessary, at our expense.
   Bearing the cost of settling the claim if it proves valid, in order to     perfect your title and keep you in possession of your property.

Summarizing, Title Insurance Means This to You:
It is assurance that every possible cloud on the title to the property you are buying - which can be discovered from the public records - has been called to your attention so that such defects can be corrected before you buy. And -

It is insurance that, if any undisclosed claim covered by your policy arises out of the past to threaten your ownership of real estate, it will be disposed of, or you will be reimbursed, exactly as your title insurance policy provides.

And You Pay Only Once.
Unlike other forms of insurance, the original premium is your only cost as long as you own the property. There are no annual payments to keep your Owners Title Insurance Policy in force.

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