Suit to Quiet Title in South Carolina

As a real estate and probate attorney in Summerville, South Carolina, I frequently deal with quiet title actions in South Carolina. In a previous post, I discussed quiet title actions in general terms. In this article, I explain when you might find yourself involved in a quiet title action (or the basic reasons for a quiet title action).

What Is a “Quiet Title” Action in South Carolina?

As previously discussed, a quiet title action, according to Cornell University School of Law, is:

A special legal proceeding to determine ownership of real property.  A party with a claim of ownership to land can file an action to quiet title, which serves as a sort of lawsuit against anyone and everyone else who has a claim to the land.  If the owner prevails in the quiet title action, no further challenges to the title can be brought.

Is a Suit to Quiet Title Necessary?

To clear any claim to the property?  In short, yes. A quiet title suit is also called a suit to remove a cloud. A cloud is any claim or potential claim of ownership with regard to the property. A cloud can be a claim of full ownership of the property or a claim of partial ownership.  

When Would I Possibly Encounter a Suit to Quiet Title?

Error in Recording

Agencies are only in the beginning stages of electronically recording title changes, so errors may be more prevalent.

Fraud

[Fraud is] a false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.

Cases in which a property has been fraudulently recorded such as a forged deed.

Liens

A [lien is the] right given to another by the owner of property to secure a debt, or one created by law in favor of certain creditors.

A lien is one of the most common obstacles in a clear title. This typically means making an arrangement between the lienholder and the property owner to pay off any outstanding amount due.

Probate Issues

Probate is defined as follows:

When a person dies, his or her estate must go through probate, which is a process overseen by a probate court. If the decedent leaves a will directing how his or her property should be distributed after death, the probate court must determine if it should be admitted to probate and given legal effect. If the decedent dies intestate—without leaving a will—the courtappoints a Personal Representative to distribute the decedent’s property according to the laws of Descent and Distribution. These laws direct the distribution of assets based on hereditary succession.

The length of time it takes to clear up any probate issues on older properties, creates new opportunities for errors in recording or clarifying issues of inheritance. Missing information is usually the most common and is resolved by tracking down death certificates for anyone associated in the inconsistency of an unclouded title.

Foreclosures

The legal definition of foreclosure is:

A  [foreclosure is a] procedure by which the holder of a mortgage—an interest in land providing security for the performance of a duty or thepayment of a debt—sells the property upon the failure of the debtor to pay the mortgage debt and, thereby, terminates his orher rights in the property.

Most foreclosure clouds occur when the title process has not been properly executed.

Should you encounter a Suit to Quiet Title or have questions about the process, Watts Law Firm in Summerville, SC can help.