Frequently Asked Questions
Closings typically last an hour or less and occur at one of our five locations. We also do our best to accommodate requests for out-of-office closings when our schedule allows. All of our closings are conducted by an attorney. Our goal is for you to understand and be comfortable with the documents you’re being asked to sign.
The attorney will provide a brief explanation of each document and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions prior to signing. We do our best not to overload you with unnecessary information, but we are always happy to provide more details if needed. If you need further explanation on the terms of your loan, we will be happy to facilitate communication with your loan officer. If you would like to review your documents prior to closing, please contact our office.
After signing the closing documents, you will receive (unsigned) copies of all documents in either paper or electronic form.
To ensure immediate availability of funds, all closing funds must be delivered by wire transfer. Our firm has several security measures in place to ensure the safe delivery of funds.
Buyers typically do not receive keys, and sellers typically do not receive their proceeds from the sale, immediately after signing closing documents.
Why? Due to regulations requiring “good funds” and the increased popularity of “split closings” in the Midsouth area, real estate closings are typically not completed at the time the documents are signed. The buyer’s signed loan documents may need to be submitted to the lender for final approval, and our office may need to exchange closing documents with the attorney’s office representing the other party. The transaction is not complete until the documents are signed by the buyer and seller, lender funds are wired to the attorney, and the proceeds from the sale are disbursed to the seller. Though this process may be different from your previous experiences with closings, this is the norm in the Midsouth and across the United States.
Closing costs include (but are not limited to) appraisal fees, lender fees, title insurance fees, attorney fees, pre-paid interest and documentation fees. These fees can differ for each customer due to the type of mortgage and type of property. You will receive a good faith estimate of your closing costs in advance of your closing date for your review.
All signees must bring a government issued ID Card, preferably your driver’s license. Some lenders require two forms of identification.
We require wire transfers for all closing funds, including down payments and closing costs (“cash to close”). You can determine the exact amount you will need for closing by contacting your lender or our office a day or two before your scheduled closing date.
You should also plan on your spouse attending closing unless our office tells you otherwise. Even if your spouse is not on title or your loan, your spouse will likely still need to sign some closing documents.
Title insurance is an insurance policy purchased at closing, or shortly thereafter, that protects your property by insuring against future claims or losses due to title defects resulting from past events, errors and omissions. A home is the largest purchase most people make in their lifetime, and title insurance is a vital way to protect that investment.
Title insurance is unique, because it provides coverage for claims made in the future, or losses incurred in the future, resulting from title defects caused by something that happened in the past. Title insurance provides important protection against hidden risks, such as “stray” deeds, forgery, incapacity or incompetency of the parties, and other undiscovered errors.
If you obtain a mortgage to purchase your property, your lender will require their own title insurance policy (likely at your expense). We believe our clients should be afforded the same protections as their lender. We strongly recommend title insurance for all real estate purchases.
Though a title search provides a detailed report of the public records affecting a particular property, there are certain risks that not even a title search can reveal. Title insurance protects you against these “unknown defects”, like forgery, stray deeds, and unknown heirs of a deceased party. The idea that a title policy is unnecessary when a title search has been performed is a common myth.
The home itself may be new, but the land on which it sits has a title history as long as any other property. Remember that someone else owned the property before the builder. Title insurance protects you against unknown defects at any point in the chain of title, including those that may have existed long before you or the builder owned the property.
The term “escrow” is used regularly in a real estate transaction and can have multiple meanings. “Escrow” most commonly refers to a portion of your monthly mortgage payment, typically homeowner’s insurance and property taxes, that is collected in addition to your monthly principal and interest. The lender collects payment for these items monthly and then pays the annual bills/premiums directly from the escrow account.
The closing attorney’s job is to represent its client’s best interests in fulfilling the terms of the real estate contract. When representing a buyer, the closing attorney is responsible for ensuring that the buyer is vested with clear title to the property at closing. When the buyer is obtaining a mortgage to purchase the property, the closing attorney is also responsible for ensuring that the mortgage documents are properly executed and that the lender has “first lien position”. When representing a seller, the closing attorney is responsible for ensuring the seller’s compliance with the contract and preparing the documents that transfer title to the buyer. If you are closing with one of our offices, we work for YOU!
Though an inspection is not required for closing, we strongly encourage all buyers to hire a licensed home inspector to inspect the property prior to closing. The closing of your purchase typically constitutes acceptance of the condition of the property, so it is always best to inspect the property for defects while you may still have an opportunity to negotiate. Sellers who want to repair any defects that could delay their sale may order a home inspection before they put their property on the market.
You can expect an open dialogue about your situation and your needs. We will need certain information regarding your family situation, finances, potential beneficiaries, and long-term goals. Everyone who owns a house or a bank account has an estate, and everyone can benefit from planning for incapacity.
After learning about you and your situation, your attorney will recommend certain documents to be included in your estate plan. We recommend that all clients have, at minimum, a Last Will and Testament, General Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, and a Living Will or Advance Healthcare Directive. In most cases, your attorney will provide a fee quote at the conclusion of your initial consultation.
Last Will and Testament. A Last Will and Testament (“Will”) allows you to direct the distribution of your assets upon your death. A Will also appoints an executor or personal representative to oversee the administration of your estate. Though a Will is usually the simplest estate planning document, it must be admitted to probate after your death and may therefore require a more complicated and expensive estate administration. Self-prepared Wills should be avoided, as state laws impose strict requirements regarding the execution and witnessing of a Will.
Revocable Trusts. Revocable trusts, also known as living trusts, are a flexible approach to estate planning that provide opportunities to streamline estate administration and address numerous contingencies. Trust-based estate plans are our preferred approach for most clients. Like a Will, a revocable trust can be amended and revoked during your lifetime. However, if properly funded, a trust can also allow for a streamlined estate administration without the involvement of a probate court.
A comprehensive estate plan will typically include a Will, General Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, HIPAA Authorization, and Living Will for yourself and your spouse if applicable. Your estate plan may also include a Trust if deemed necessary during your estate planning consultation.
You can expect to discuss the basics of what probate or estate administration entails in Tennessee and to develop a plan of action based on the particulars of your loved one’s estate. Your attorney will need to review a copy of the Last Will and Testament. Your attorney will also ask you questions regarding the estate’s assets and value. It is important to prepare a list of the deceased’s assets and bring supporting documentation to the consultation, if possible.