From time to time, questions may arise surrounding the ownership of a real estate title. For example, a will or trust may be improperly written, leaving inheritors uncertain about who owns the real estate in the document. Or, a real estate purchase may go through with a poorly-written contract, allowing a former owner to stake a claim for the newly purchased property.
In these cases and more, you may wish to file a quiet title action. A quiet title action involves suing a party with a competing interest in a property title. A quiet title action is designed to “quiet” disagreements and resolve who owns the title one way or another.
But quiet title actions—which can cost significant amounts of time and money—aren’t the only ways to resolve title disputes. Here are some alternatives to quiet title actions in Arkansas.
Why Use an Alternative to a Quiet Title Action?
Quiet title actions have some downsides. For starters, these suits can take a while to resolve, oftentimes taking six months to well over a year from start to finish. For people looking to use property they recently purchased, this can be far too long. Furthermore, quiet title suits are oftentimes expensive. Many quiet title lawsuits cost well over $5000 when accounting for legal fees, the time spent resolving the matter, and lost income from investment.
Because of these downsides, many property owners or title contestants seek alternative resolution methods with lower costs or faster results. Here are some alternatives to quieting a title in Arkansas.
Quiet Title Alternatives
Hire A Probate Attorney
If a title dispute arises over a deceased person’s property, it may be smart to hire an Arkansas probate attorney rather than file a quiet title action.
A probate attorney enables the deceased’s surviving family to probate relevant property using the judicial system. Probate attorneys can help navigate the complex will and trust laws of Arkansas. They can also ensure that a deceased individual’s property is legally given to the right people.
However, keep in mind that probate attorneys are only appropriate in title contests where the property in question is related to a deceased person, not for title contests involving recently purchased property or investment properties.
Use a Quitclaim Deed
A quitclaim deed removes one party’s legal interest in a property or piece of real estate. For example, if you and another person aren’t sure who has ownership of a property title, one of you may volunteer or be convinced to use a quitclaim deed to give up ownership rights.
This can be a convenient solution if you’re looking to purchase property and an ownership issue arises during the title search process. If the person whose name appears during the search doesn’t have any interest in claiming the property, they can execute a quitclaim deed and remove the matter quickly and easily.
Exercise Your Deed Warranty Rights
In some cases, the deed that grants your ownership interest in the property may include one or more warranties set by the original seller. These warranties can include your right to peaceable possession of the property (i.e., your right to take possession of the property without much difficulty) or the right to buy a property that’s clear or safe.
If either of these warranties is breached, you may be able to take action against the property seller by recouping your current costs, being able to back out of the real estate deal without fines or penalties, etc. This action could be important during investment property contests or title disputes.
File a Claim Against the Title Insurance Company
You can file a claim against the title insurance company at the heart of the dispute. Many title insurance policies cover issues that may arise during the title search process. This can help you recoup your costs and allow you to reclaim the money you may have already spent, such as the down payment for a new house or other property.
Negotiate & Settle Out of Court
Not every title dispute has to end in a court battle. In fact, you can almost always settle things out of court with the other party in a title dispute. This may be a good idea since quiet title actions cost a lot of time and money for everyone involved—even the successful party.
Settling out-of-court through arbitration or mediation is cheaper and oftentimes quicker than pursuing a quiet title action. You should still hire an experienced attorney to represent your interests. Knowledgeable title attorneys can coach you on what to say, gather evidence for you, and negotiate with the other party on your behalf.
Contact Milligan Law Offices
Ultimately, a quiet title suit may not be the best course of action for your real estate dispute, especially when it comes to inherited estates or property from a deceased individual. Rather than risking a lot of time and money, you can take advantage of help from knowledgeable trust and estate attorneys.
The experienced team at Milligan Law Offices can help you navigate the complexities of real estate inheritance and title ownership. If you have questions about one of these issues, schedule an initial consultation with us by filling out our secure online form or by calling our Fort Smith office at (479) 783-2213.