South Florida Real Estate Attorneys
History of Title Insurance & Attorneys’ Title Fund Services, LLC
There have been significant changes in the process of rendering legal opinions to clients in real property transactions over the years. Only real estate lawyers performed real property work in Florida’s early decades. Clients hired real estate attorneys to render an opinion about the title, and the lawyer checked the records at the courthouse, examined the relevant legal documents and then provided an “opinion of title” to the client. With an increase in the volume of real estate transactions, it became necessary for lawyers to hire non-attorney staff members to perform the public records research and prepare digests (abstracts), which the lawyer would then review. There later arose the need to maintain records using the property’s legal description instead of relying on the parties to a document. Title abstracters eventually founded their own record-keeping companies by assembling information from courthouse records to create in-house title databases or “title plants” as they are now known. The general public then gained access to title information, typically in the form of abstracts. As real estate became more expensive, lenders and investors sought greater financial protection against title defects such as lost instruments, forgeries and other matters that were not in the public record. Other states had seen the emergence of title insurance companies to satisfy this need, and the companies began to expand into Florida.
The first title insurance policies issued relied on opinions from lawyers. The title insurance companies later hired their own lawyers and either bought or assembled title plants for their own use. Lawyers began to realize that their real estate practices were threatened. During this time, Orlando lawyer George B. Carter came up with the idea of creating a title insurance underwriter specifically for lawyers. Each attorney member would contribute some of the fees from real property transactions to the fund. The fee would underwrite the lawyer member’s issuance of a title insurance policy on the “fund,” along with a legal opinion. Carter drafted a declaration of trust in the fall of 1946 and submitted it to the Orange County Bar Association. The plan was promoted among lawyers across Florida during the next several months and then it was submitted to The Florida Bar Association for approval.
The Board of Governors of The Florida Bar approved the plan, and the declaration of trust was filed with the secretary of state. The trust set out the terms and conditions under which The Fund was authorized to transact business in Florida. This resulted in the establishment of the country’s first “bar-related” title insurer in 1947. It was first called the Lawyers’ Title Guaranty Fund, which was later changed to the Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund, Inc. The Fund began operations on Jan. 1, 1948. Florida’s insurance commissioner granted The Fund a certificate to insure real property titles as a title insurer on Aug. 14, 1951. The Fund has renewed its certificate every year since then.
Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund, Inc. is still the only lawyers-only organization for insuring titles to Florida real estate. It is a cooperative effort of Florida lawyers through which they furnish real estate purchasers and mortgage lenders complete title protection by giving legal advice and service, plus an insured title. The Fund’s commitments, guarantees and policies are written by Fund members who actively practice law and who are members in good standing of The Florida Bar. There are more than 6,000 active Fund members in Florida.
Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund, Inc., and Old Republic National Title Insurance Company formed a joint venture called Attorneys’ Title Fund Services, LLC, on July 1, 2009. Except for acting as the insurer, a role that will now be undertaken by Old Republic, the new company, jointly owned by The Fund and Old Republic, will perform the same service, technology, education, marketing support and underwriting to Florida real estate attorneys as The Fund had been doing since the 1950s.
Here is a list of some of the benefits you can expect as a result of the Law Offices of Evan M. Rosen, being a member of The Fund:
- Quality Title Information: The Fund maintains the largest source of title information in Florida in its ATIDS (Automated Title Information Data Systems) plant, facilitating a level of service and quality of data in which members, buyers, sellers and those financing real estate transactions can comfortably rely.
- Technology: With its enhanced functionality and user-friendly interface, ATIDS XE simplifies the process of searching title chains and is available only for Fund members.
- Education: Throughout the year, The Fund provides members an unparalleled level of education and resources to better serve those needing the most cutting-edge, up-to-date real estate services in the state.
- Outstanding Service: As a result of the quality title data, technology and education the lawyer at the Law Offices of Evan M. Rosen, receive, our clients are supplied with an affordable and reliable real estate, closing, and title insurance service which is delivered with the utmost attention to detail.