Bulletin: NY000638

Date:
March 17, 2020
To:
All New York State Agents, Office Counsel, and Managers
RE:
Surrogate’s Court Closures

It has come to our attention that many of the Surrogate’s Courts across New York State have closed or otherwise restricted access to court records as a countermeasure against the spread of COVID-19.  Until such time as the Surrogate’s Courts re-open so as to allow all of the searches required under the underwriting guidelines to be done, we can do the following to omit certain exceptions that may arise as a part of title examination:

·         If the searches come back and show that the deeds in the chain of title do not contain any decedents (i.e., all grantees subsequently conveyed out to all subsequent grantors), we can insure without exception.

·         If there is a tenancy by the entirety in the chain of title and a surviving spouse sold the property, we can insure without exception.

·         If the premises are being sold out of an estate, or by the heirs of a decedent, or have been sold out of an estate within the past 10 years, or if there is a scenario which exists that does not fit any of the scenarios set forth herein, we will examine these situations on a case-by-case basis to review whether the recent deed contains relevant exceptions, whether the current fee owner has an owner’s policy, etc.

·         If there is a decedent in the chain of title, but the deed out of the estate indicates that the fiduciary sold the property more than 20 years ago, we can insure without exception, so long as we obtain an affidavit from the seller/fee owner stating the following:

1.     I am one of the fee owners of real property located at [ADDRESS] (the “Premises”).

2.     I acquired my interest in the Premises on [DATE] from [SELLER] for good and valuable consideration via a deed that was recorded on [DATE] in the office of the office of the _____________ County Clerk/New York City Register in Reel/Page/CRFN: ______________ (the “Vesting Deed”).

3.     Since acquiring the Premises, we have [resided at the Premises] [owned and operated a _____________ [describe type of business] at the Premises] [leased the Premises from time to time] [collected rents derived from the Premises] [maintained the perimeter fence at the Premises] and [paid all real estate taxes and other carrying costs and charges due in connection with the Premises].

4.     Except as set forth in the above-referenced title report, I have no actual knowledge of any liens or encumbrances on the property. Our ownership and possession have been uninterrupted and continuous, open, notorious, hostile and adverse to all others and exclusive of right or claim of any person or corporation, and title has never been questioned. No person, corporation or other entity has ever made any claim whereby our possession or ownership might be called in question or by reason of which any claim to any part of said Premises or interest therein adverse to us might occur.

5.     Now therefore, to induce ____________________, as policy issuing agent for Stewart Title Insurance Company to issue its policies insuring an interest in, or title to, the Premises, I agree to hold _________________________and Stewart Title Insurance Company harmless from all liability, loss, or damage of any nature, including attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred, which ________________________or Stewart Title Insurance Company may sustain resulting from the issuance of insurance.

We will issue supplemental bulletins as necessary in order to further assist you.

As a reminder, you are responsible for knowledge of and compliance with the information contained in all Bulletins and Special Alerts as posted on Virtual Underwriter (www.vuwriter.com), whether you receive them by electronic distribution or not.

In the event you have any questions regarding the above please contact Stewart Title Legal Department at 212-922-0050 and speak with any Underwriting Counsel.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
NY000637 Recording Offices Closed Because of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Related Bulletins:
None
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None