Sometimes when you have a gap in your title, the information just isn’t available of record. In other cases however, it may appear that you have a gap, but you are really just missing some key information that you may not have thought to include.
One way of resolving these “gaps” is by including the probates we talked about last week. If the executor of an estate or several people who appear to be strangers to title (some of whom may have the same last name as the last owner of record) convey their interest in a parcel, it may be a clue that the owner of the property died and you need to look for a probate for him/her.
Another thing to look out for is a person (usually a woman) conveying interest who has the same first name but different last name from the person who received interest. This usually means that the woman married between the time she received the interest and the time she conveyed it. Unless you are instructed otherwise, in this situation, it is a good idea to include her marriage certificate, in order to establish that link between her maiden name and married name.
Similarly, it is a good practice to include divorce cases in your title as well. You will know you need to look out for them when two people who were a couple convey to just one member of that couple. It isn’t a guarantee that they divorced, but it is a pretty likely sign.
Finally, any time the subject property is sold by a county representative (such as an auditor, commissioner, etc.), that is a solid indication that there is a related case that you need to find and include in your abstract.
When running title, keep your eyes peeled for any of the above clues that indicate that cases, probates, marriage certificates or divorces are needed. By including the relevant documents, your title will be more complete and more accurate. There will be a clear chain as to the property’s ownership and it will be easier for others to follow.