Know the difference between real and junk mail
By Brooke Borg
You know the feeling: You get home from a long day of work and get the mail, only to see it includes a few unavoidable bills and a lot of mail that appears to be junk.
However, before you toss the junk mail into the trash, that little voice in your head says, “Are you sure it’s junk?”
Two of the most common forms I receive calls about are solicitations to order an “Official Recorded Document” or a “Homestead Declaration.”
• Official recorded document mailing. If an attorney assisted with your estate-planning documents or a transfer of property, most likely you’ve already been provided with a copy of your recorded deed.
A copy of a recorded deed costs $17 per page and can be obtained from the Clark County Recorder’s office. However, solicitations sometimes charge upwards of $95 for a copy.
Companies in the business of sending solicitations often peruse county records to find recent property transfers.Most of the time, the solicitation is received by someone who either just purchased a home, added a family member or friend to the deed, or transferred a property to a newly formed trust. People often become confused because they don’t think of these actions as a “transfer” of property. But because a new deed is recorded in property records, companies see it as an opportunity to make a profit by offering a service that sounds like something people may need.
• Homestead declaration mailing. Along with “official recorded document” solicitations, many people are bombarded with offers to file a homestead declaration.
A homestead declaration can be filed only on your primary residence and protects the property from the reach of general creditors, up to $550,000 in equity. This means if you have less than $550,000 in equity in your primary residence, a general creditor cannot force you to sell that property to pay off a debt. General creditors include medical providers or credit card companies, for instance, but not a mortgage lender, lienholder who existed prior to the filing or the IRS.
Filing a declaration of homestead is the most basic form of asset protection one can have. The filing fee is $17, and the document is filed with the Clark County Recorder’s office. Some companies charge about $50 for the same service.
In short, beware of mailings that appear to be official because they are sent by a company that has a name similar to a state or county agency. These companies prey on customers who do not know the difference between junk mail and legitimate services. If you find yourself in this position, contact your estate planning attorney for assistance.
If you are unsure whether you filed a homestead declaration or if you need a copy of a deed affecting your real property, you can find such information and order copies of documents at recorder.co.clark.nv.us/recorderecommerce.
Brooke Borg is an attorney and founder of Borg Law Group.