Is There Anything You Can Do When Property Has Been Stolen?
Title fraud has become such a rampant problem in Miami, Florida in recent years that Miami-Dade County has a new policy in place to help protect victims of forged titles. Under the county’s new policy, written notice is sent to the original owner of a property whenever a deed is filed with the county. What is title fraud and how do victims get relief, especially if the victim is an estate? If you suspect that an estate has been the victim of title fraud, the first step you need to take is contacting a Miami estate attorney.
Because of the number of foreclosed and abandoned properties in Miami, Florida right now, title fraud is an especially big problem here. How it normally works is that someone forges a signature on a quitclaim deed for a piece of property that is either abandoned or otherwise doesn’t appear to be used. Sometimes the person committing the fraud will go as far as to forge a notary’s signature and stamp as well, making the document look legitimate when it is sent to the clerk. Usually at that point, the person who forged the deed will then turn around and sell the property to someone else, either a totally unsuspecting party or perhaps someone that was in on the fraud the whole time.
Because the people committing title fraud usually target houses that look abandoned, it generally happens to those who are not looking after their property properly. Property that is in limbo while an estate is being settled is also vulnerable, especially if there is no one local to assist in keeping an eye on the property. At that point, it is not especially difficult for someone to just forge a quitclaim deed and take the property.
This does not mean that there is nothing that can be done, however. The personal representative of the Miami estate can file a lawsuit to quiet title to the property and restore it to the estate, as well as to evict tenants and attempt to get financial damages.
Preventing title fraud can be incredibly difficult, but there are a few things that every property owner or personal representative should do to help protect property. One is to hire a management company to maintain the property so that it does not look abandoned and to keep an eye on it. Things to specifically watch for include locks being changed or people living in the home that are not allowed to be there. Also a wise idea is to periodically check property records for the property to make sure that ownership hasn’t changed. Finally, one big clue that property may have been fraudulently conveyed is that tax bills stop coming, at which point the matter should be looked into further.
If you believe that a Miami estate has been the victim of title fraud, do not try to handle the matter yourself. Real estate matters can be lengthy and complicated, and when an estate is involved, even more so. The best step to take is to hire an experienced Miami estate attorney to handle the matter for you. Call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.