History of Title Insurance & Attorneys' Title Fund Services, LLC
The business of providing title information and rendering legal opinions to clients has changed dramatically throughout the history of real property transactions. In the early years of the state of Florida, real property work was handled exclusively by attorneys. A client would engage an attorney to render a title opinion. The attorney would research records at the courthouse, examine the legal documents, and then render a legal opinion to their client. As the attorney’s practice increased, it became necessary to train non-lawyer personnel to research the public records and prepare digests (abstracts) for the attorney to examine. It soon became apparent that there was a need to maintain records using the legal description of the property involved, rather than using the parties to a document. The abstracters doing the research for attorneys established their own record-keeping companies using information recorded at the county courthouse to build in-house “title plants.” Title information, usually in the form of abstracts, then became available to the general public. As the prices of real property increased, lenders and investors began demanding greater financial protection against title defects such as forgeries, lost instruments, and other matters that were outside the public record. Title insurance companies had been created to fill this need in other states and began to expand into Florida.
At first, the insurance companies issued policies based on attorneys’ opinions. Eventually, these companies retained their own counsel and either purchased or built title plants for their own use. Attorneys were being threatened with the loss of their real property practices. It was during this period that an Orlando attorney, George B. Carter, conceived the idea of creating a title insurance underwriter specifically for attorneys, whereby each attorney member would contribute a part of the fee from real property transactions to a statewide “fund.” This fee would underwrite the attorney member's issuance of a title insurance policy on the “fund,” coupled with a legal opinion. In the fall of 1946, he drafted a declaration of trust and submitted the draft to the Orange County Bar Association. Over the next few months, the plan was promoted among attorneys throughout the state and submitted for approval to The Florida Bar Association. Approval of the plan by the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar was followed by the filing of the Declaration of Trust with the secretary of state. The Fund was authorized to transact business in the state of Florida under the terms and conditions set forth in the trust. The result was the establishment in 1947 of the nation's first “Bar-Related” title insurer – Lawyers’ Title Guaranty Fund, later named Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund, Inc. The Fund commenced operation on January 1, 1948. On August 14, 1951, the insurance commissioner of Florida granted The Fund a certificate to insure real property titles as a title insurer. The certificate has been renewed annually since that date.
Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund, Inc., remains Florida’s sole lawyer-only organization for insuring title to Florida real estate. The Fund is a cooperative effort of Florida attorneys through which they furnish real estate purchasers and mortgage lenders complete title protection by giving legal advice and service, plus insured title. The commitments, guarantees, and policies of The Fund are written by Fund members who are active in the practice of law and in good standing with The Florida Bar. There are more than 6,000 active Fund members in Florida.
As of July 1st, 2009, Attorneys’ Title Insurance Fund, Inc. and Old Republic National Title Insurance Company formed a joint venture called Attorneys’ Title Fund Services, Inc. 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 has been doing since the 1950’s.
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 the launch of ATIDS XE, The Fund what makes real estate attorneys different from other title agents in not only the level of protection they can provide to the public but also the ease and accuracy in which they can do so. 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.
If you are considering buying, selling, refinancing, or leasing property in South Florida, contact us today. Let the Law Offices of Evan M. Rosen serve you!