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Probably no class of legal proceedings so often figures in examinations of title as actions brought to foreclose and enforce liens, and particularly is this true in the matter of the foreclosure of mortgages. Two general methods of foreclosure are recognized in equity, one, called strict foreclosure, whereby the mortgagee is adjudged the absolute owner of the property; and the other, by a sale of the property under the direction of the court and by one of its own

cers, in which case the proceeds are applied to the discharge of the incumbrances, according to their priority, and the balance, if any, is paid over to the mortgagor. Strict forclosure has always been regarded as a harsh remedy, and is not now permitted in most of the states, nor is the title thus acquired as safe as when made by the ordinary foreclosure by sale.

The title derived under a foreclosed mortgage is evidenced by the mortgage itself; the proceedings and decree in the foreclosure suit; the certificate of sale; report, and confirmation; and, finally, by the selling officer's deed, all together composing one transaction. Much care should be exercised in preparing a synopsis of the proceedings and the examiner should see that all persons who might otherwise legally assert any rights in relation to the mortgaged premises have been regularly brought in and properly barred or their rights adjusted. This will include not only the mortgagors, but subsequent mortgagees, judgment creditors, lien holders, and all other persons possessing legal rights or equities accruing subsequent to the lien asserted by the mortgage.

Divorce proceedings are seldom shown in abstracts of title, save as they may incumber land by the lien

Hinson vs. Adrian, 86 N. C., 61; Maybury vs. Ruiz, 58 Cal., 11.

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for alimony, and then only in brief and general terms. A divorce has another important effect on titles, however, considered in respect to dower. The general rule is that the dissolution of the marriage relation restores the parties to the same relative positions they occupied prior to entering into same. One of the incidents, therefore, is the loss of the dower right of the wife, and to show a full and complete devolution of title an appropriate mention of divorce seems necessary in all cases where the question of dower would properly arise. 64

In the examination of titles questions growing out of the exercise of the right of eminent domain are often presented where there has been an abandonment of the lands appropriated, or a diversion from the original purpose. Condemnations are also shown incidentally, as where rights of way are acquired over tracts which form the subject of the examination. It will frequently be advisable to show condemnation proceedings where land is taken for the opening or widening of streets, and the result is a change in the shape or dimensions of platted lands.


Taxes are burdens or charges imposed by the legislative power, upon persons or property, to raise money for public purposes or to accomplish some governmental end. The lien for taxes attaches to all land subject to taxation annually, upon some day stated, the time being different in nearly every State, and continues until the tax is paid. * Burdick vs. Briggs, 11 Wis., 126;

dered in favor of the wife for Given vs. Marr, 27 Me., 212

the misconduct of the husband. In some states dower is pre

Consult local statutes. served where the decree is ren

Many examiners make no search for information concerning current taxes, yet this is one of the things of which intending purchasers should be apprised. Taxes are due and payable at a stated time each year and when the date of the search is after this time, and before the time fixed for the sale of lands for delinquent taxes, an examination should be made to ascertain the fact of payment or non-payment.

Usually the payment of a tax is enforced by a sale of the land upon which it has been imposed. The methods employed are too various to attempt special mention. Whatever may be the methods employed the proceedings are summary in their nature and the requirements of law must be strictly pursued or the whole transaction will be void. When special proceedings are authorized by statute, by which the estate of one man may be divested and transferred to another, the owner has a right to insist upon a strict performance of all the material requirements of the statute, especially those designed for his security, and the non-observance of which may operate to his prejudice. It is not the policy of the law to deprive the citizen of his property by sales made on account of the government through its officers, who have no personal interest in the matter, without putting him wholly in fault in not complying with his obligations.

A synopsis of the special proceedings culminating in the sale is of the highest importance whenever the sale is relied upon as the foundation of title, but in ordinary examinations tax sales are shown rather in the nature of incumbrances on the title or charges upon the land, and it is customary to show only the fact, leaving the question of validity to be decided by other and special searches. For this reason tax sales,

when still subject to redemption or not consummated by deed, are shown after the chain and under a classified head, the abstract consisting only of a brief mention of the date of sale and tax for which same is made, with reference to the official record. Then follows a brief description of the lands sold and the name of the person to whom the certificate issued. Forfeitures to the State are treated the same as tax sales.

From two to three years is the period ordinarily allowed in which the owner or interested party may discharge the obligation imposed by the levy of the tax and relieve the land from its burden. During this period the purchaser has a contingent interest, which, after the day for redemption has passed, may ripen into an absolute title. This contingency may be defeated by payment, and, when such is the case, it often becomes a matter for special mention. It is not the usual custom of examiners, however, to make special mention of a redemption, as the certificate of the abstract is presumed to be a sufficient statement of the condition of the title at its date. Many examiners show redemptions by a marginal note on the original abstract of the tax sale, and this, in most instances, is considered the preferable way. Neither the legal nor the equitable title to lands sold for non-payment of taxes vests in the purchaser until the execution and delivery of a tax deed. This deed does not operate ipso facto to transfer the title of the owner, as in ordinary deeds between individuals, but is the last act of a series of proceedings upon the regularity of which it depends for its character and effect. In a majority of the states, however, such a deed, when formal and duly executed, is taken as presumptive evidence of the regularity of all antecedent proceedings from the listing or valuation of the land up to the issuance of the deed. But the owner of property cannot be precluded from showing the invalidity of a tax deed thereto by proving the omission of any act essential to the due assessment of the same, the levy of a tax thereon, and the sale thereof on that account. As to the performance of these acts, and the facts necessary to constitute them, the deed can only be made prima facie evidence.66

Whenever it is shown that any essential particular in the prior proceedings has been irregular its prima facie character is lost, and the person asserting title under it must prove its regularity and the due observance of all of the statutory requirements necessary to give it validity.6

In addition to the ordinary charges annually imposed by the State, and which are usually designated as taxes, the examiner must also search for what are generally termed “'assessments.” An assessment, as distinguished from other forms of taxation, means a special or local imposition on property in the immediate vicinity of municipal improvements which is necessary to pay for such improvements, and is laid with reference to the special benefit which the property is supposed to have derived therefrom. A properly prepared abstract should show all confirmed special assessments against the property under investigation which remain unpaid at the date of the certificate. The statement may be brief but should comprise such data as will fully acquaint intending purchasers with all necessary particulars and readily enable any person interested to refer to the original sources of informa

as Allen vs. Armstrong, 16 Iowa,

508; MacCready vs. Sexton, 19
Iowa, 356; Steeple vs. Dowing,
65 Ind., 501.

OG Sibley vs. Smith, 2 Mich., 486;

Turney vs. Yeoman, 16 Ohio, 24; Thompson vs. Ware, 43 Iowa, 455.

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