How can we run a title search to ensure there are no liens against Mom's condo?

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Can we get a duplicate deed if one is not located? We live in Missouri. Mom has a will but there are immediate concerns. Can we run a title search on her condo and car to make sure they are unencumbered?

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Good points, GSA. Now I'm wondering if title companies contact Medicaid when doing a title search to determine if there are Medicaid liens that haven't yet been filed.

Jan, was your mother living in her own condo, or was she in a facility and possibly getting Medicaid assistance?
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Found this on the government website that administers Medicaid in Missouri
Estate Recovery
One significant outcome of the 2007 legislative session was the passage of Senate Bill 577. This bill changed the Missouri Medicaid program to MO HealthNet. The legislation also provided for an additional tool for the MO HealthNet Estate Recovery program.
The legislation added a new section to RSMo 473.398 that starting August 28, 2007, any open estate may not be closed with respect to a decedent who, at the time of death, was enrolled in MO HealthNet until a release of the Estate Recovery Claim by MO HealthNet is obtained.
In order to obtain a release either as a result of payment of an Estate Recovery Claim or if the decedent was not enrolled in the MO HealthNet, the following must be completed:
MO HealthNet Division will make available an Estate Notice MO HealthNet report form
to be completed by the representing attorney at the time the estate is opened. This form may also be obtained by calling MO HealthNet at (573) 751-2005.
When the form is completed, the representing attorney will send it to MO HealthNet Division via fax (573)526-1162 or mail to the Cost Recovery Unit, PO Box 6500, Jefferson City, MO 65102-6500.
The form will be completed further by the MO HealthNet Division and returned to the representing attorney by fax or mail advising if a claim will be asserted or waived.
A MO HealthNet Division release letter will follow when the decedent is determined not to be a MO HealthNet participant or after payment of an Estate Recovery claim if they are a MO HealthNet participant.
If you have any questions about Estate Recovery, please contact the MO HealthNet Division, Cost Recovery Unit at (573) 751-2005.
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My condolences, IamJan. Hopefully GA covered your items regarding liens. HOWEVER, If your concern is your mother receiving Medicaid and the Medicaid Estate Recovery now involved with long term care and the letter acknowledging same after 2005 - slightly different advice. Get yourself a lawyer familiar with Medicaid Recovery and elder law where your mother was receiving care. A lien may not have been filed YET by Medicaid but that does not mean that it will not be. States have different ways of approaching recovery - some through probate, some through lien that will encumber title, and some will give exemptions to recovery. It sounds like from your posts that you were not heavily involved in the financial aspects of your parent, so you can look for paperwork in the accounts and other files that you were looking for life insurance paperwork in. Don't just enter into a sale of property without checking this out as it could cause you/executor/title company/purchaser big headaches later.
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I forgot to offer condolences on your loss.
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I can only speak for Michigan, but can provide some guidelines.

1. Assuming you plan to sell, a title search can and should be done by professionals in the title insurance field. Realtors generally prefer certain title companies and will forward data to them to determine what, if any liens and/or encumbrances are of record. This would happen obviously if a purchase agreement is executed.

Generally there might be mortgage(s) and if recent work was performed on the house and not paid for, there might be construction liens. Title agents will also check for back taxes, and other liens which might have been filed against the property.

2. If you really do want to know now, and I think it's a good plan to find out as part of an assessment of assets, you can either go to, go online if your local register of deeds (or other office which records documents on real property) and do a search yourself.

For mortgages, search to see if there's also a discharge of mortgage.

3. You can also monitor her mail for several months as you're proceeding in handling her affairs to see if any mortgage payments arrive.

It's also a good idea to notify the lender of your mother's death and advise of your plans to sell, continue, or pay off the mortgage (depending on the situation).

4. Check with the condo association directly; there probably are annual assessments. Call the local municipality to check on property taxes.

5. A register of deeds office will generally make copies of deed(s) for you, sometimes at a nominal charge. If there is a mortgage, the lender will hold the original deed until the mortgage is paid off. If there were mortgages that have been paid off, you can similarly get copies of the discharge(s) at the local county office which handles real property recordings.

6. I don't know of any way to determine if there are car liens other than:

(a) contacting the Secretary of State (the state agency that handles motor vehicle registration and licensing) and get a duplicate copy of the title. Liens are reflected on that title.

Or (b) watch for monthly statements in the mail.

(c) I haven't had a car loan in years, but I assume vehicle loans would be reflected in credit reports as well. Getting a credit report is a good way to get a summary of all documented indebtedness.
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