Real estate lawyers: Planning to retire or leave practice? Three words: Legal. Service. Coverage.
You’re looking forward to retirement – next year, or maybe 20 years down the road. Or perhaps you’re leaving private practice to work as in-house counsel. Whatever your plans, you want to be assured that malpractice claims won’t come back to haunt you or your family.
Real estate claims continue to be a major source of costs for the LAWPRO E&O program, representing an average of $22.2 million annually, with the average real estate claim reported 3.5 years after the error has occurred. Some are even reported 20, 30 or 40 years after the fact, typically when property is sold by a long-time owner or his/her estate. For the most common real estate malpractice errors and risk management tips, read the LAWPRO Real Estate Malpractice Claims Fact Sheet.
What does this mean for you and your clients?
Most real estate property values increase over time. With a TitlePLUS policy¹ , owners are protected as long as they hold title, in addition to the owner’s spouse or children (if title is transferred to them), or the owner’s heirs if he/she dies. Mortgages are insured as long as they constitute a charge on the property, even if they’re renewed, extended or amended.
After you leave practice, malpractice claims could engage or even exhaust your E&O run-off coverage. ² As such, when choosing a title insurance policy for your client, you will want to carefully consider the options. With a TitlePLUS policy, purchasers and lenders are insured for their lawyer’s legal services for the transaction.³ Legal service claims are made directly through the title insurance policy and any claims paid will not impact your run-off insurance. Any way you look at it, Legal Service Coverage is a long-term proposition that allows you and your clients to rest easy.
Title insurance policies other than TitlePLUS policies don’t provide automatic coverage for the lawyer’s legal services in the real estate transaction. LAWPRO regularly receives claims under the E&O program where the transaction was insured under other title insurance policies. In some of these claims, the title insurer denies coverage and the lawyer’s E&O coverage pays legal, settlement and/or repair costs.
Some examples of claims that may not be covered by other title insurance policies are:
- Failure to follow instructions for payment of funds;
- Errors in advising of the taxes applicable to the transaction, or tax consequences;
- Registering title to two or more owners as tenants in common, when instructions were to register as joint tenants;
- Obtaining coverage for a single family dwelling when the property features multiple units; and
- Inadequately reviewing or drafting the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, undertakings, warranties or other documents in connection with the transaction.
Other title insurers advertise coverage for aspects of the lawyer’s services in real estate transactions that can be purchased on an individual basis, at a further charge. Or they offer coverage – at a price – for a lawyer’s negligence if the result is a loss that would fall within one of the covered title or compliance risks. But no other title insurance policy has Legal Service Coverage each time, every time, at no additional cost.³
In a nutshell? TitlePLUS policies mean peace of mind for you and your clients – now and for the future.
¹.Please refer to the policy for full details, including actual terms and conditions.
².For information on LAWPRO run-off coverage protection
³. Excluding OwnerEXPRESS® (existing owner) policies and Québec policies.