Bulletin: GA2015001

Date:
June 30, 2015
To:
All Georgia Issuing Offices
RE:
UNDERWRITING HB 322 Amending Acknowledgment of Deeds and Foreclosure Statutes

Dear Associates:

On May 6, 2015, the Governor signed House Bill 322 amending Title 44 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. The Act will take effect on July 1, 2015. Attached to this bulletin, please find a copy of HB 322 in its entirety. A summary of the changes to Title 44 are as follows: 

Section One amends Section 44-5-30 to clarify that all deed to lands must be signed by the maker, attested by an officer of the court or notary public as set forth in Section 44-2-15, and attested by one other witness. There is no longer a need for notary and two witnesses on attested or acknowledged deeds

Section Two creates a new Section 44-12-237 regarding savings bonds and unclaimed property.

Sections Three to Seven amend Sections 44-14-(33, 34, 37, 61, and 62) to change the attestation requirements for security deeds/mortgages. Again it clarifies that in order to admit a security deed to recording, it must be signed by the maker, attested by an officer of the court or notary public as set forth in Section 44-2-15, and attested by one other witness. The same law applies to security deeds/mortgages executed outside of the state. There is no longer a need for notary and two witnesses on attested or acknowledged security deeds.

Section Eight amends Section 44-14-63 making minor changes stating that all security deeds shall be recorded in the respective county to be valid. Unrecorded security deeds shall remain valid against the persons executing them.

Section Nine amends Section 44-14-160 to require that the clerk of the court will record and cross reference the deed under power to security deed/mortgage that was foreclosed upon. It further provides for a $500.00 fine if a deed under power is not recorded within 120 days from the foreclosure sale. This fine is set to be paid by the holder of the deed under power upon recording. The penalty shall be remitted to the governing authority of the county.

As prescribed by statute, the same principal of execution and attestation applies to all deeds of conveyance filed for record in Georgia. All deeds and security deeds are subject to strict compliance standards in order to be eligible for recording and as constructive notice. Georgia law applies regardless of the state in which the deed is prepared and executed by the maker. Regardless of how a security deed and other instruments affecting title are prepared or where these documents are sent to be executed, all deeds filed for record in Georgia must be signed by the maker, attested by an officer of the court or notary public as set forth in Section 44-2-15, and attested by one other witness in order to meet Georgia’s requirement for recording.

Company Policy: Regardless of how a security deed and other instruments affecting title are prepared or where these documents are sent to be executed, all Georgia Issuing Agents must examine the signature page of any deed to ensure it is properly executed by the grantor and both an official notary public’s attestation and also the attestation of an unofficial witness are present before the instrument is filed for record with the Clerk of Court in the county where the land to be insured is located. Upon the return of recorded documents from the Clerk of Court, all Issuing Agents must again review the documents to insure that the deed contains the proper execution and witness attestation in accordance with Georgia law.

If this review reveals that any deed in the current transaction was filed for record without the proper information described above, please contact your local underwriter before proceeding to issue the policies.

A security deed with a defective attestation or acknowledgement may be corrected with a correction Security Deed or a modification agreement. Georgia Revised Title Standards §14.4. An affidavit may be recorded proving the execution at the closing and delivery of the Security Deed in accordance with O.C.G.A. §44-2-18. Title can also be established by declaratory action reforming the instrument or other legal proceeding. Where an Issuing Agent encounters a deed of record in the search of title without the proper information described above,please contact your local underwriting counsel before agreeing to insure a subsequent transaction

If you have any questions relating to this or other bulletins, please contact a Stewart Title Guaranty Company underwriter.

For on-line viewing of this and other bulletins, please log onto www.vuwriter.com.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
GA2013003 UNDERWRITING - Georgia Supreme Court Decisions Affect Validity of Many Deeds
Related Bulletins:
None
Underwriting Manual:
4.16 Deeds Of Conveyance
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None