Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Unauthorized Practice In Real Estate Transactions

An opinion summary from the web page of the Rhode Island Supreme Court

In re William E. Paplauskas, Jr.; In re Daniel S. Balkun and Balkun Title & Closing, Inc.; In re SouthCoast Title and Escrow, Inc., Nos. 18-161, 162, 163 (May 29, 2020) 18-161, 162, 163
The Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee transmitted three reports to the Supreme Court concerning three separate matters pursuant to Rule 7(c)(ii)(p) of the Committee’s Rules of Procedure.  In those reports, the Committee concluded that William Paplauskas, Daniel Balkun, Balkun Title & Closing, Inc., and SouthCoast Title and Escrow, Inc. (collectively Respondents) each had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.  The Committee found that the Respondents had engaged in several aspects of residential real estate transactions which, in the Committee’s view, constituted the practice of law.  The Committee recommended that the Court declare the following activities to be the unauthorized practice of law: (1) conducting a residential real estate closing; (2) examining a title for marketability; (3) drafting a deed; (4) drafting a residency affidavit; and (5) drafting a durable power of attorney.

The Supreme Court concluded that a non-attorney may conduct a real estate closing, draft a residency affidavit, and draft a limited durable power of attorney provided that those actions are done in conjunction with the issuance of title insurance for the property being conveyed.  However, the Court held that a title examination must be conducted by an attorney.  It further was of the opinion that the deed must be drafted by an attorney or the draft of the deed must be reviewed by an attorney.
(Mike Frisch)


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