Florida probate proceedings may result in stressful and expensive situations. Still, there are several manners to avoid (or at least mitigate) the effects of probate over an individual’s estate upon death.
In this article, you will discover how to use unrecorded pocket deeds and whether they are the best strategy to avoid probate in Florida.
Unrecorded Pocket Deeds – Understanding the Concept
The term “pocket deed” refers to a deed signed during an individual’s lifetime but recorded only upon that person’s passing. Hence, while the person is still alive, the deed is not fully executed and recorded in the local land records.
In Florida, pocket deeds might be used by individuals to avoid probate while retaining control of the property during their lifetimes.
An unrecorded deed is not part of public records, the property’s original owner (the transferor) will remain in control of the property. Upon his or her death, the signed deed will be recorded to complete the transfer and avoid probate.
However, although it may sound like a resourceful strategy, an unrecorded pocked deed may not be efficient in most cases.
Unrecorded Pocket Deed to Avoid Probate in Florida – Is it Actually Effective?
Pocket Deeds May Result in Ownership Concerns
A deed is not executed until the document has been properly signed and delivered for recording. As the transferor’s signature is not sufficient to complete the transfer, a pocket deed is not recorded until the owner’s passing.
Considering the delivery and record of a time will affect the document’s validity, a pocket deed may raise concerns on whether the title was properly recorded, whether the transferred was granted ownership of the property, and how it may be proved.
Another common concern is the outcome of this strategy if the transferee does not find the document upon the transferor’s death or even if the document is lost with the decedent’s signature on it.
Unrecorded Pocket Deed vs. Unforeseen Title Issues
When the ownership of a property is questioned due to deed issues, it may result in title clouds. If the validity or legitimacy of a property’s title is not guaranteed in Florida, title insurers will not write a policy to cover the property against unforeseen issues.
Even if the transferee guarantees that the document was signed prior to the transferor’s death, the title company would be reluctant to write an insurance policy for the property.
Depending on the level of concern raised by a pocket deed, it may lead a title company to require the signature of a declaratory action to quiet title before the issuance of a policy.
If a title company refuses to write a policy on a property without a declaratory action, it may result in an unmarketable title. As long as a property’s title remains unmarketable, the transferee will not be able to sell, mortgage, or transfer the property until the issue is gone.
Other issues associated with unrecorded pocket deeds in Florida include:
- Issues involving the transferor’s personal creditors (i.e., liens attached to the property)
- Unnecessary hassles and expenses involving federal taxes
- Any changes in recording laws may hinder the deed’s effect to avoid probate
- Stressful situations if the document is hidden, lost, destroyed, or misplaced
Do You Want to Avoid Probate in Florida? – Immediately Contact an Expert Attorney at Jurado & Associates, P.A.
A well-versed attorney from Jurado and Associates, P.A. will help you find solid, cost-effective strategies to avoid Florida probate. Waste no time – call us today at (305) 921-0976 or email Romy@juradolawfirm.com to schedule a consultation.