Without copies of what was signed, future problems may be difficult to fix

Ilyce R. Glink
Inman News

Q: I refinanced my house and the title guy had me sign a quitclaim and deed of trust. He said because I had my married name on the title, it needed to be put in my maiden name.

Should I be worried? I didn’t get copies of what I signed.

A: You should contact the title company immediately to get copies of all of your documents.

After you close on the purchase of a property or complete a refinance, these documents are often collected into what is known as a “closing book.” You should keep these documents as a record of the transaction should something go wrong.

But let’s get to the stranger part of your letter. You didn’t include any information about being divorced, but the only legitimate reason I can think of why you would need to execute a quitclaim deed from your married name into your maiden name is if you have been divorced and you have gone back to using your maiden name.

By executing a quitclaim deed, you are essentially transferring any ownership interest you have in the property to yourself.

If you have not been divorced, then you should start to investigate what has happened and make sure you understand the transaction.

Which brings me to an important point: No one should ever sign his or her name to a legal document without understanding exactly what the document says and what the transaction is all about. I know that mortgage documents can run several dozen pages, and that you have to initial each page. But by initialing each page, you’re certifying that you have read and understood what each page says.

If you don’t understand what is on the page, then keep asking questions until you do understand.

Q: My husband and I are divorcing. He is refinancing our property and buying me out. He says I will get the check two or three days after signing the quitclaim deed.

My local bank says normally there is just an exchange of signing and money at the same time. He is financing at a federal bank. Does this make a difference or is there something else going on?

A: Whether you’re working with a local bank or national mortgage lender, when you refinance your primary residence, there is a three-day right of rescission. That means you have three business days to cancel the transaction. So, it’s possible that your husband won’t receive the funds until three business days after the transaction closes.

But you have to protect yourself as well. I wouldn’t just hand over the quitclaim deed and trust that your soon-to-be ex-husband will come through with the cash. What you might do is deliver the quitclaim deed in trust and give the escrow company specific instructions not to hand over the quitclaim deed until your check has been received. That should protect your interests.

The problem is that many escrow or title companies won’t do this. If they won’t, then you should refuse to sign over the quitclaim deed until you have a check in hand.

Please consult a real estate attorney for further details or other ideas on how to handle the situation.

Copyright 2008 Ilyce R. Glink

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