Title company will ensure son is named in parents' trust

Posted7/31/2020 6:00 AM

Q. My parents owned their house and put the house in their trust. Both my parents passed away within the past year. I have a copy of the trust agreement. The agreement states that if one of my parents dies, the other becomes the successor trustee. It also appears to state that upon the death of both parents, I become the successor trustee.

I wish to now sell the house. Is there anything I need to do before I list the property and try to sell it?


A. No. Presuming the trust is valid and you are interpreting the trust language accurately, you likely have the power to list and sell the property as most living trusts grant these powers to the successor trustee. Once the property is sold, the title company insuring the transaction will want to see the trust agreement and death certificates to confirm that your parents are deceased and that you have the power to now sell the property. In the event you wish to take a proactive step, contact a real estate attorney familiar with residential transactions and have him review the trust agreement to confirm all is in order.

Of course, as successor trustee, you have an obligation to disburse the sales proceeds per the terms of the trust.

Q. I have received a notice that the real estate taxes on my property have been sold. I purchased this property about a year ago and my mortgage company pays my real estate taxes. I have confirmed with them that they have made all the required tax payments since I purchased the property. The notice states that the taxes that were sold were 2017 taxes. What do I do now?

A. If you purchased this property within the past year, the unpaid 2017 real estate taxes should have appeared on the title report that was furnished by the seller prior to your closing. Contact the attorney who represented you for your purchase. Ask him or her to review the title commitment to determine whether these unpaid taxes were noted. Also, by now, you should have received your owners title policy. Is there any indication on the policy of these unpaid taxes?

If the taxes were noted on the title commitment, they were likely paid off at closing, as your attorney would not have allowed this exception to remain on your title. If this is the case, either the title company failed to pay the county for the outstanding taxes or they did pay the county and the county failed to properly record the payment. Look at your settlement statement from the closing. Do you see any indication of 2017 taxes being paid?

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If they were not noted on the commitment, it appears the title company may have missed the outstanding taxes. This doesn't happen often, but it happens.

If the title company failed to note the outstanding taxes, you probably have a claim against the title company. I would contact the attorney who represented you during your purchase and bring this to his or her attention. He or she will know what to do.

• Send your questions to attorney Tom Resnick, 910 E. Oak St., Lake in the Hills, IL 60156, by email to tom@thomasresnicklaw.com or call (847) 359-8983.

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