This may be regarding the actual property title, an easement on the land, some sort of license, a lease in place or a title by contrary ownership. This often is observed by real estate lawyers when some conflict has transpired about the title of a property and the ownership of the land or estate. Because of these arguments and legal battles, it is important to understand the difference in an equitable title and a legal title.
When someone has completed a real estate deal, his or her name is usually placed on the deed. This is considered a legal title, and it means that this person is considered the individual that owns and possesses the property legally. It is enforceable by law in a court. In contrast to this, an equitable title is an interest in the use of the property that may benefit the owner. In certain instances, the person that has the legal title may be different than someone with an equitable title. This may best observed when an individual has purchased land with a residence but has an easement that permits another family to a certain portion that may contain minerals. This interest provides an income based on the minerals that are harvested or used for various means.
In certain situations, individuals other than the title owner, entities or organizations or companies may place the title on hold through their hands as the person that owns the title may not be of age or sound mind and body to retain ownership just yet. This leads to a trust that is created due to the transfer of the property for circumstances when the person was not intended to become the owner of the interest. This may also arise when the individual in question must be found, or he or she is nowhere near where the property resides. In some instances, the new owner must be searched out and contacted. This causes either someone or some type of organization to hold onto the title until the true owner may be transferred the ownership.
The claims about a title often arise which causes a conflict. Because a large legal battle is too much for most, quiet title actions are usually the route selected to protect all parties included in the argument. Some issues arise when one person is on the title but the other has made repairs, maintenance and improvements to the estate. These may be the difference in a legal title and an equitable title. However, because the person that has equitable title is not considered the owner of the property, he or she is not capable of maintaining a quiet title action when opposing the legal title holder.
The legal title holder is the person on the deed with the action of the court behind him or her. This means that any action needed by the court is enforceable for this individual. He or she is considered the actual legal owner of the estate, but this does not necessarily mean he or she has any special interest or portion of the property he or she is obtaining royalties or income due to minerals or similar interests. Someone with an equitable title for the property holds this title due to an interest that provides a benefit of some type through the use of the estate.
Even though an equitable title holder is not capable of keeping a legal conflict with the legal title holder going, there is an exception to this rule. When the person that owns the property has committed fraud to acquire the land or assets, he or she may be on the losing end of litigation against the equitable title holder when a quiet action for the title occurs. This would work the same as other legal battles where evidence and proof is necessary to succeed in the claim.
It is important that these laws and regulations are accurately comprehended and documented properly. The attorneys here at James Brown Law are experts on title. Jim is the founder of New Path Title, a 100% realtor-focused title company in West Palm Beach. Give us a call at 561-838-9595 or email us at [email protected] to learn more.