This is the next article in my series on how to be successful in an Oklahoma Quiet Title Action.  In my previous article, I covered the necessary steps involved in initiating a quiet title action.  It’s crucial to understand that, like any other civil lawsuit, strict adherence to the rules of civil procedure and notice requirements is critical.  Failure to comply with these guidelines can result in an unsuccessful lawsuit that may be dismissed by the judge. To ensure that you are taking the correct measures, following procedures, and conducting proper service it is highly recommended to speak with an attorney.  In this article, I will address some crucial points to consider if you are preparing to file a suit to quiet title.  If you require assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact our office today to speak to a knowledgeable quiet title lawyer.

Always begin by diligently gathering both factual and legal information

The first crucial step is establishing a solid legal basis for your lawsuit.  Failure to ascertain a valid legal position for the Petitioner’s suit will end up in its dismissal.  If your claim relies on adverse possession then it’s essential to prove that all elements of adverse possession have been satisfied. Alternatively, if the basis is a fraudulent transfer of the deed, be prepared to show how the property was unlawfully transferred to the current title holder.  Moreover, ensure you accurately list the legal description as provided on the property deed.  Remember, this is not the same as the physical address.  Exercise due diligence and reasonable prudence to search for the name and address of all adverse claimants to the property.  Failing to include every defendant with a current or potential claim in the suit may result in you having to defend such a suit in the near future.

Another factor to consider is the composition of the petition itself

Ensure that the names of all defendants are accurately listed.  A defendant is anyone who possesses a current or a potential claim, adverse to your interest, whether they are known or unknown, living or deceased.  In cases where you believe the person to be deceased, it’s crucial to include their unknown heirs, successors, executors, administrators, devisees, trustees and assigns.  By doing so, you safeguard yourself from potential future lawsuits by unknown heirs of the deceased.  Additionally, clearly state the basis for your property interest and present compelling reasons why the Court should hold your interest as superior to that of the Defendants.  While it may seem obvious, it serves as a valuable reminder to include a specific request for relief toward the end of the petition.  Also, it’s highly advisable to file a notice of lis pendens both with the court and county clerk.  This document serves as a public notice of the ongoing property ownership dispute and the pending lawsuit.

An often overlooked yet crucial step in the process is the service on the Defendants

This entails serving them with the petition and summons, and formally notifying them of the lawsuit.  While personal service is ideal, it may not always be feasible.  In such cases, alternative methods like service by publication come into play.  This is where you publish the lawsuit in a local newspaper, one day a week, for three consecutive weeks.  It notifies the “entire world” by informing them about the pending suit.  Service or notice by publication is a vital aspect, as any improper service could lead to the dismissal of the case.  Therefore, it is critical to ensure that all Defendants who couldn’t be served personally are included in the publication, with their names spelled correctly, and that all relevant legal and factual matters are accurate.

In many instances, attending a hearing before a judge becomes necessary

Uncontested cases are relatively straightforward.  You appear at the hearing well-prepared and ready to present proof of proper service or publication, explain the basis for your claim, and request the judge to declare you the true owner of the property.  In contested cases, both parties present their arguments and supporting evidence regarding their ownership interest.  The judge will ultimately rule in favor of the Plaintiff or dismiss the case.  A successful outcome will declare you as the owner of the property, shielding you from any future claims by the Defendants.  It’s imperative to include all relevant facts forming the basis of your claim in the journal entry.  If the judge rules in favor of the Plaintiff and signs the journal entry, it must then be filed with the court.

Whether you find yourself in a property dispute or have been advised by a title company to pursue a quiet title action before a closing date, seeking legal representation is crucial.  As an OKC real estate law attorney, I understand the intimidating and confusing nature of this process.  My office is dedicated to giving your case the attention it deserves and guiding you every step of the way.  Contact us online or by telephone today to schedule an initial consultation.  I proudly serve clients in Oklahoma County, Logan County, Cleveland County, and Grady County.