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Revised September 16, 2010
In order to produce continuity of practice among members of the Lycoming Law Association, the following statements are recognized as the prevailing customs in the matter of examining and certifying or insuring titles to real estate in Lycoming County and that certificates of title shall be subject to and in accordance with the following customs:
1. To examine titles to real estate for a period of 50 years prior to the date of certification or insurance of title, providing however, that the beginning point of the search shall be a deed or other instrument purporting to convey a full fee simple title, and which contains a special or general warranty. A straw conveyance, quitclaim, or fiduciary deed shall not be considered an appropriate beginning point.
2. To consider only mortgages recorded within 50 years of the date of the search or within such period as is required by Paragraph 1 above, whichever is longer, and to disregard others, unless the mortgage is charged in or referred to in a document in the chain of title which has been recorded or filed within 50 years, or unless the present ownership or the immediate source of title of present ownership is the party subject to such mortgage.
3. To disregard all liens and claims unreleased of record which are more than 31 years old, including those of legacies created by wills proven more than 31 years ago, unless the lien or claim is referred to as being in force and effect in a document in the chain of title which has been dated and recorded or dated and filed within 31 years.
4. To consider as sufficient evidence of the veracity of the facts any statement contained in a document dated and recorded or dated and filed more than 30 years preceding the search, pertaining to the following:
a. that certain liens or claims have been paid and released and reciting the parties to the release and the date thereof;
b. any other document covered under the Ancient Document Rule of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
5. To consider as sufficient evidence of the veracity of the facts any statement contained in a document acknowledged and filed or recorded which recites the date of death or the fact of death of anyone appearing in the chain of title.
6. To consider as sufficient evidence of the veracity of the facts of any statement concerning marital status of a grantor contained in a deed which has been properly acknowledged and recorded.
7. To accept the veracity of the facts of any statements pertaining to identification of the heirs of a deceased owner made in accordance with any of the following:
a. The statements are contained in a deed or recorded document dated and filed more than 21 years previously; or
b. The statements are contained in an affidavit made by one who has personal knowledge of the subject matter and who has no direct pecuniary interest in the transaction to which the statements relate.
8. To disregard cases:
a. where a male grantor makes conveyance without the joinder of his wife if said conveyance is dated and acknowledged prior to January 1, 1918.
b. where a conveyance of individually owned property is made without joinder of a spouse where the conveyance was made after June 18, 1978, except as indicated herein. For conveyances after July 1, 1980, the joinder of a spouse is required if a search of the records of the county in which the property is located discloses a divorce action pending at the time of the conveyance or where the attorney issuing title insurance or a certificate of title has actual knowledge of the pendency of a divorce action. In certain situations where a decedent has conveyed individually owned property without the joinder of a surviving spouse, the surviving spouse must convey title to remove clouds on the title. These situations are:
i. The decedent conveyed the property subject to a reservation of the right to use or occupy the property for life;
ii. The decedent conveyed the property subject to a reservation of the right to revoke the conveyance or invade or dispose of the property;
iii. The decedent’s conveyance included himself as a grantee and the conveyance was with right of survivorship;
iv. The decedent conveyed the property for nominal consideration within one year of the date of his death. For conveyances after July 1, 1980, the joinder of a spouse is required if a search of the records of the county in which the property is located discloses a divorce action pending at the time of the conveyance or where the attorney issuing title insurance or a certificate of title has actual knowledge of the pendency of a divorce action.
9. To consider as adequate the description of the premises or property in a mortgage or deed by a short description such as street address or number of acres in a municipality or subdivision thereof, frontage along a road in a suburban area, or lot number in a development, provided the instrument contains a statement incorporating the full description into the deed or mortgage by reference to some recorded instrument which contains the full description. Further, to consider as adequate the description of the premises that lists only that the premises are bounded by adjoining landowners as long as the landowners as described appear to accurately represent adjoining property owners and the attorney performing the search is not aware of any boundary dispute relating to the premises.
10. An attorney preparing a certificate of title or a title insurance policy assumes no responsibility for the following items, unless a currently completed survey of the premises has been brought to the attention of the attorney and mention made of the same in the opinion of title, namely: the location and/or correctness of the boundary lines recited in the most recent deed, the quantity of land involved, the location of existence of improvements on the land, whether the improvements are located within the boundaries of the land under search and encroachments of improvements from adjoining owners on the land under search, and whether there is access to the premises from a public roadway.
11. An attorney preparing a certificate of title or a title insurance policy, unless otherwise expressly stated therein, assumes no responsibility for assuring or determining whether there has been any violation of covenants, conditions or restrictions that are identified in the certificate of title, nor whether any future violation of such restrictions will cause a forfeiture or reversion of title.
12. An attorney’s certificate of title or title insurance policy issued by an attorney relating to land in Lycoming County, unless otherwise expressly stated therein, is based solely upon an examination of the proper records in the Lycoming County Courthouse and no attorney shall have any responsibility for any title defect which is not disclosed by an examination of said records, except for those items about which the attorney has personal knowledge.
13. An attorney’s certificate of title or title insurance policy is furnished without an accompanying abstract of title. A copy of the abstract of title may be furnished to the client upon request and upon payment of an additional fee sufficient to cover the cost of making such copy.
14. In identification of the wards on deeds, mortgages and other instruments, it is suggested that the attorney use the assessment wards as set forth by the county assessment bureau and not the voting wards. On deeds, it is further suggested that attorneys identify the tax parcel number or the Uniform Parcel Identifier of the property conveyed, using language such as the following, with the selection of the appropriate bracketed word: “For identification purposes only, being [all] [part] of [tax parcel no.] [uniform parcel identifier] _________________________________, in the records of the [Lycoming County Tax Assessment Bureau] [Lycoming County Planning Commission].”
15. An attorney providing title insurance or a certificate of title for a lending institution shall not have any obligation to assure compliance with state or federal regulations for lending procedures or disclosure procedures absent a written agreement with the lending institution.
16. To accept as conclusive evidence the validity of a sheriff’s sale or other judicial sale if the deed confirming the sale was recorded at least six years prior to the date of certification or insurance of title, unless the record clearly reflects that notice was not given to a party in interest as required by the then applicable Rules of Civil Procedure or then applicable statutes.
17. To conclude that notice was properly given in any tax sale if the deed in connection with said tax sale was recorded at least 21 years prior to the date of certification or insurance of title.
18. An attorney’s Certificate of Title, or a title insurance policy issued by an attorney, unless otherwise expressly stated therein, assumes no responsibility for assuring or determining the ownership of any subsurface rights in the land, including but not limited to, any right, title, or interest in any oil, gas, coal, mineral, or other subsurface rights or interests.