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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a title

    Title is a document that lists the legal owner of a piece of property. It’s a legal term that refers to who has the legal right to use a piece of property. It’s important to have a real estate attorney perform a ‘title search’ to prove that you have ‘clear title’ to the property and that there are no problems such as past ownership claims, liens or easements you may not be aware of.

  • What is a defective title

    This is a title for a property that is found to have a lien, mortgage, legal judgment such as bankruptcy or divorce decrees, or other claim on it. Such issues need to be cleared up before transfer of ownership can take place.

  • How long does it take to do a title search

    The title process takes about two weeks but can vary in length depending on the property. Public records will be examined going back 50 years or more, so it’s important to allow time to perform a thorough search. Beacon Title & Escrow staff will update you on the timetable as the process unfolds.

  • How does a title differ from a deed

    A deed is the legal document that transfers ownership of a piece of property from the previous owner to the new owner. The deed also contains a description of the property and the purchase price.

  • Do deeds need to be notarized

    Virtually all states require that a deed be notarized and potentially witnessed by a Notary Public. This means that a state can require a new owner to sign the deed in front of witnesses who also sign the deed. The Notary Public will verify that the signature(s) on the deed are genuine. NOTE: RI and MA require signatures of a Notary Public; NH requires a Notary Public or Justice of the Peace.

  • Why does an attorney need to prepare the real estate deed

    Typically the seller hires an attorney to ensure that the deed is valid before the seller can give title right to the property. This same attorney performs the title search. The attorney is responsible for delivering the deed to the buyer.

  • What is the buyer’s responsibility regarding a title and deed

    The buyer isn’t required to sign a deed. The buyer must record the deed in the county where the property is located. This recording of a property transaction (typically called a Deeds Registry or Property Records office in a city, town or county office) protects the buyer’s ownership interest in the piece of real estate, in case the seller attempts to transfer title to another buyer. Beacon Title & Escrow depends on properly recorded documents to determine the true owner of a property and whether there are any liens attached.

  • Why do I need title insurance

    Should you discover there is a problem with your title after you purchase a home or piece of property, title insurance covers you in case someone who thinks they have a claim to your land or property sues you. Title insurance protects both the homeowner and lender against financial loss from title ‘defects.’ Lenders typically require this insurance, but it’s important for the owner to have their own insurance policy, too, for best protection of interests and peace of mind.

  • What is a closing

    Also called a ‘settlement,’ a closing is the completion of the real estate transfer. This is when the title passes from seller to buyer. At Beacon Title & Escrow, we schedule and hold closings 365 days a year, 24/7 at the convenience of our buyers and sellers. We’ve closed transactions on the hoods of cars, inside coffee shops…anywhere, at any time.

  • What happens at a closing

    This is when the buyer, seller and lender meet to sign paperwork such as closing, deeds and mortgage documents. It’s also when money is distributed according to terms of the sale, typically down payments, closing costs, title insurance, and other fees as may be required.

  • What is escrow

    This is a financial instrument where money or assets are held temporarily by Beacon Title & Escrow as a neutral, third party ‘agent’ on behalf of the two transacting parties. Having funds in an escrow account can assure a seller that the buyer can pay for and close on the purchase because enough funds are in the account.


9 Thurber Blvd. Suite D
Smithfield, RI 02917
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401.217.4441  Office
401.217.4449  Fax

Beacon Title & Escrow, Ltd., holds licenses in Rhode Island (# 3000602942) and New Hampshire (# 2444459).

In Massachusetts, we are licensed and operate as Nicholson Law Group (BBO # 708779).

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