Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C.

What happens if someone else has a legal claim to your new home?

Becoming a homeowner is supposed to offer security. You invest in a property and then spend your time and money maintaining or improving it. That effort pays off with increased property value. Over time, you can either choose to cash out some of that equity when you get older or sell your home for a profit and downsize as you age.

Unfortunately for some people, the investment they make in their home is not as protected as they might believe. Without the right insurance, you could lose your home, as well as the equity you have accrued in it over the years. There are circumstances in which someone else may have a legal claim to the property you purchased.

These scenarios could include both state situations where the property was part of someone's last will or divorce situations where one spouse did not comply with court orders. Regardless of the scenario, you likely will find yourself very frightened if someone else claims to have legal rights to the property you purchased.

Title insurance offers homeowners protection from these claims

A lot of people think of title insurance as a meaningless expense when they purchase or refinance a home. However, it can offer real protection in the rare event that your family home is a contested property. If someone else brings a legal claim against your home and claims some kind of partial ownership, your title insurance policy offers several forms of protection.

First of all, title insurance will typically pay for an attorney to defend your right of ownership to the property. That's important, as defending against the title claim can cost a lot of money. Additionally, the insurance policy will protect you in the event that you lose in court.

If the court finds that the other party has a legal right to the property, the title company will reimburse you for the money you have invested in the home. Although that situation means you don't get to keep your house, it does mean your investment in the house is not lost.

You definitely need help if someone else claims to own your home

Pennsylvania real estate and title law can be incredibly complicated. Working with a title agent and a lawyer who understands this area of Pennsylvania law can definitely improve your chances at defending your rights of ownership. Just because you have proof that you purchased the property does not inherently mean you have the ability to defend against the title claim.

A lawyer can review the circumstances and the legal paperwork attached to the transfer of the property to advise you of the best strategy for defending your home against an unexpected claim.

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