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CEO’s Corner March 2021

“Wisdom is gained through heartache, but knowledge comes from mistakes.”   

joe crutchfield
Joe Crutchfield, CEO of Investors Title

(Or something like that — I don’t know to whom to attribute the quote, maybe Ernest Hemingway?) Anyway, I do believe it to be true that every mistake we make is a chance to learn something we didn’t know before. Any miscalculation or even a small clerical error that has consequences is unlikely to be repeated or forgotten.  

In today’s unforgiving world, however, are people given the latitude that is necessary to learn from the missteps they inevitably make particularly when they are new and inexperienced? I think sometimes they are not. Regardless, there are many new people in the title industry, mortgage lending and real estate world as a whole, and they are going to make mistakes. My hope is that they are given the right environment to learn and to grow so that they will want to continue to be a part of what I believe to be a great industry with many different satisfying careers.

Powers of Attorney in the Title Industry

Onto another topic: Powers of Attorney.

There have been a number of issues surrounding Powers of Attorney lately that are very important to point out. 

Number one, not all Powers of Attorney are created equal. More specifically, not all Powers of Attorney apply to real estate transactions. The “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care” or a “Financial Durable Power of Attorney” are examples. 

The Health Care Power of Attorney should be obvious. That document relates only to health care decisions when someone is unable, because of physical or mental condition, to make decisions for themselves regarding their care. Likewise, many documents labeled “Financial” Powers of Attorney” relate to things like banking transactions and the like, but do not authorize the sale and conveyance of real estate.

In addition, we still see some Powers of Attorney that are not “Durable.” When a Power of Attorney has the necessary language to be “Durable,” that means that the Power of Attorney does not terminate even if the Principal (the person who signed the Power of Attorney) becomes incompetent so that they are unable to act for themselves. 

That’s generally considered a great feature of the Durable Power because a non-durable Power of Attorney terminates when the Principal enters a state when they are unable to handle their own affairs effectively and is subject to termination at any time by the Principal.

A typical problem arises when the agent or closer is told that a party can’t come to closing because they are going to be out of town, etc., but the client says “Don’t worry because my son/daughter/spouse can sign for me with my Power of Attorney.” This is a moment to say, “Well we need to have this Power of Attorney approved by our title company, and keep in mind they will need the original for closing because it must be recorded.”

The bottom line?  Let us know right away when a Power of Attorney may be used so we can review and approve and if it is one that is not suitable for a real estate transaction, there is still time to make other arrangements.  

Final Thoughts

So that’s about it for now. One final, positive thought. I know that everyone is “over” the pandemic and quarantines, and masks, and virtual schooling, and everything else created by COVID that has made our lives more complicated and inconvenient over the last year. (Not to mention the personal suffering and loss). My spirits were lifted this weekend, though, when I went to the park near our house. I sometimes walk or jog (although jogging is overstating what I do. It’s somewhere between a jog and a walk so I don’t think there’s actually a word for it). In any case, while I was in the park I saw a lot of people as the park was packed. The weather was great and the sun was shining. 

The great thing was that everyone I passed was in a great mood. They all said “Hi,” or “Good morning” and were smiling. The babies were laughing and waving and the dogs were happy. It was a wonder to behold. This reminded me of how resilient people are. After the harsh winter we just had and the year-long pandemic, if a few sunny days can create the atmosphere I experienced in the park, well, I am optimistic about the future.  

All the best to you and yours. Have a great spring season.