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Do I Really Need a Real Estate Attorney?

A question I commonly encounter is why a buyer or seller needs an attorney’s assistance for the sale, purchase, or refinancing of property. A title company ensures that the title to a piece of real estate is legitimate and then issues title insurance for that property…why involve another party in the process? The answer is simple – because attorneys do what title companies cannot. Title companies, and their employees, are prohibited from providing any type of legal advice to those in the closing process.

A real estate attorney can review important documents (such as deeds, loan documents, purchase contract, title insurance policies, etc.) and advise clients of potential problems and/or issues that must be addressed in advance of a closing. By foregoing the use of an attorney, a party restricts their ability to get answers to legal questions. What does right of survivorship mean? What is my legal obligation to my lender? How will a restrictive covenant affect me in the future? All of these, and more, are consistently asked by my clients – and it is my solely my role to answer them. If questions go unanswered, parties may be sorely misinformed of their rights and responsibilities, leading to only more legal troubles and expenses down the road.

In addition to answering routine real estate questions, I often have to address other aspects of law that arise in real estate transactions. For example, when an owner of a property is deceased, and someone is selling that property on their behalf , the most important inquiry is who has the power to sell the property and under what authority that power is provided. A title company can provide a copy of the deed and the will, if filed,of record from the clerk’s office, but this does little to address the looming issues –who has the power to sell? What action needs to be taken to transfer the property correctly? To answer this often requires complex, intricate knowledge of trusts and estates law…simply examining the title does not reveal the answer. It is not uncommon for a real estate attorney to be familiar with a multitude of practice areas, such as estate planning, contract law, and litigation.

Buying, selling, and refinancing property can be high-pressure and high-stakes. When going through the process, be sure to have someone looking out for your interests alone. Use a McBrayer real estate attorney to assist with all your transactions.

BMacGregor

Brittany C. MacGregor is an associate attorney practicing in the Lexington office of McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC. She is a graduate of Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky College of Law. Ms. MacGregor’s practice focuses on real estate law, including title examination, title insurance, clearing title issues, deeds, settlement statements, preparation of loan documentation, contract negotiation and preparation, and lease negotiation and preparation. She may be reached at bmacgregor@mmlk.com or at (859) 231-8780.

This article is intended as a summary of federal and state law activities and does not constitute legal advice.

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