Title Tips: Searching Probate Records

1. Always search additional spellings, abbreviations and possible misspellings of names.

  • Example:  Joseph Neilsen should be searched as Joe Neilsen, Joseph Neilsen, Joe Nielsen, Joseph Nielsen, Joe Nielson, Joseph Nielson, Joe Neilson, and Joseph Neilson (Joey would be caught by Joe).
  • Another example: Katherine should always be searched additionally as Kathryn and Kathy.  If the last name is not too common, just searching Kat is a good catch all.

2. Always ask realtors and lenders for the parties’ full legal names.  It is not uncommon for parties to be using middle names or colloquial names on applications or even vested ownership.

  • Example:  John Stuart is listed on a contract as the seller, presents a driver’s license that says John Stuart and holds title as John Stuart.  By asking for the seller’s full LEGAL name, you discover his first name is actually Daniel. It is really important to search the first name as an initial when you have knowledge that the borrower/buyer/seller goes by their middle name.  It is also important to note that Alabama driver’s license often do not reflect an individual’s legal name.  A correct search of this seller would have been: John Stuart, D John Stuart, Daniel Stuart, Dan Stuart.

3. Always double check the Map Book and Page listed on the tax assessor’s website with the Map Book and Page listed in the legal description on your vesting deed.  

  • We are discovering a lot of inconsistencies in the indexing of newly recorded plat maps.  This is another way to double check that you have not missed a revised/new map.

By:  Lauren Marlbrough, David P. Condon, P.C., Birmingham

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