Normally, searching title for a Lot in a Subdivision is a relatively easy puzzle to piece together. Every now and then, you come across a search that contains some very odd information, which can make that puzzle more complicated, and sometimes a little more fun!
As we know, a title search with an Estate in the chain of title is extremely common; an Estate where an heir claims black magic is involved- priceless. Being a huge Harry Potter fan, I immediately got goosebumps.
Below is a summary of the research of this Estate:
(Names have been changed for privacy reasons)
- An owner, ‘Vernon’, within my chain of title acquired the property alone, as married.
- In 2014, a List of Heirs, Probate, etc. were filed by his son, ‘Dudley’, stating Vernon had died Interstate, was divorced, and that Dudley was his only heir. Dudley was then appointed Executor for his father’s Estate.
- Late that year, a Will was filed by the wife of Vernon, ‘Bellatrix’, (maybe not the mother of Dudley?) along with a new List of Heirs stating Vernon also had a daughter, ‘Ginny’. Bellatrix went to court and filed a suit. An order was filed terminating Dudley and appointing Bellatrix as Executrix of her husband’s Estate. Note: No Executor powers were stated in the Will.
- The Will devised, per Article One, all real property (including our Lot) to his wife, Bellatrix. However, in Article Two, it states that if she decided to sell the house, the proceeds are to be distributed: 1) 1/3 to his wife, Bellatrix; 2) 1/3 to his mother, ‘Marge’; 3) 1/3 to his two children, Dudley and Ginny.
- Attached at the end of the Will was a handwritten, signed note from Vernon to Bellatrix which stated: “I don’t know if there is a better way I could have done this. Even if there were, I would not be as happy with it. You will probably wonder why this way. The answer is TRUST, RESPECT and GRATITUDE.”
- The property was conveyed only by Bellatrix, as Devisee of the Estate of Vernon. The And Being clause contained references to the documents in the chain of title and stated that Bellatrix had qualified and been confirmed as Executrix. However, Bellatrix did not sell as such.
- A month later, Dudley filed a letter with the court stating that “… many of us believe that my father was under the spells of black magic (voodoo) … As far as I am concerned, [Bellatrix and Ginny] probably have something to do with my father’s death”. YIKES! Sounds like double, double toil and trouble!
The role of the Examiner is to REPORT THE FACTS of title. We made note of the possible outstanding interests of the Estate of Vernon and called for the attorney to review all the documents and determine the devisees and the distribution of property.
After all, as a Title Examiner – who you gonna call? Dumbledore?!
Kim Barnett Ross, VCTE
Land Title Research, Inc.