Frequently Asked Questions

When you sign up with SafetyDeed, we record a notice on your title informing prospective buyers, lenders—and the courts—that future agreements, such as sales contracts and mortgages, are not valid and might be fraudulent unless they are accompanied by a Certificate of Compliance cryptographically signed by us. Even if you are tricked into signing an agreement, it is highly unlikely that a court would enforce it without a Certificate from us.

No. We will not compensate you for losses or pay to defend your title. Your title insurance policy might cover the cost of defending your title against claims by forgers and impersonators.

Yes, but that is not its main purpose. “Title theft” refers to a bad actor forging a signature on a deed and then claiming ownership of a home to either sell it or obtain a mortgage. 

Of all the types of fraud homeowners fall victim to, title theft is the least common and least likely to succeed. That is because a person cannot actually acquire legal title to your home merely by forging your signature. Similarly, a bank cannot lawfully force you to repay a mortgage that you did not sign for. Nevertheless, SafetyDeed protects against such crimes and makes them easier to prove even if you are no longer competent or alive.

No. Title monitoring services alert homeowners about newly recorded documents. If you are duped into knowingly signing a contract that is fraudulent or predatory, an alert from a monitoring service won’t tell you anything you don’t already know. It also won’t affect the enforceability of the agreement like a SHERPA Covenant will.

Yes. If your home is in a revocable trust, then using SafetyDeed could help protect your home. However, if your home is in an irrevocable trust managed by a professional trustee, then you probably already have strong protection against fraud and might not need SafetyDeed. Ask your lawyer whether SafetyDeed would afford you any additional protection.

Yes. One of our goals is to prevent bad actors from writing themselves into your will. If you already have a will when you sign up with us, we will ask you to let us know the date it was signed and where a copy can be found. You may also give us a copy for safekeeping.

If you create or change your will after you sign up with SafetyDeed in a way that affects what happens to your home after you die, it will be considered a protected transaction. That means you will have to let your Reviewers or your lawyer know about the proposed change before we will issue a Certificate of Compliance. The absence of a Certificate won’t invalidate your will, but it could be a factor in determining its legitimacy if it is contested after you die.

Yes. When you sign up with SafetyDeed, you instruct us not to issue a Certificate of Compliance in connection with any title modification related to a marriage or adult adoption unless your Reviewers or lawyer were notified in advance.

You can still marry or adopt anyone you want to, of course, but if you don’t apply for and receive a Certificate of Compliance from us beforehand, then if someone were to claim that the marriage or adoption were fraudulent, they could use your failure to follow your own instructions as evidence that you were defrauded or unduly influenced.

Yes. Guardians and successor trustees appointed for you or your trust will have to go through the same procedures you would to sell, mortgage, or give away your home, except that we will always require a lawyer to be involved. If your guardian or trustee is a lawyer, we might require them to retain a different lawyer.

Yes. Dishonest lawyers use attorney-client privilege to hide their illegal activities, making it difficult for relatives and investigators to obtain evidence. Our agreement with you will include a limited durable irrevocable power of attorney to seek and obtain documents affecting your property, including documents that might otherwise be shielded by attorney-client privilege.

It’s not an either-or situation. If someone attempts to defraud you, having SafetyDeed will not be a substitute for having a lawyer. But if you do have SafetyDeed, your lawyer will be in a far better position to defend you. Our Technical Discussion explains why.

Here are other reasons you should use SafetyDeed as an added protection for your title.

Safety. If you become vulnerable and your lawyer defrauds you, the fraud will be difficult to detect and very hard to prove because it will be buried deep in other matters and attorney-client privilege will help shield your lawyer from discovery. That is why lawyers routinely appear on lists of top perpetrators of elder financial abuse. We are not a law firm so we cannot hide behind attorney-client privilege.

Independence. Scammers and abusers thrive on the fact that their victims are often unable— or unwilling—to demand justice. Unfortunately, your lawyer can’t fight for you without your permission. However, with SafetyDeed, if you get defrauded, we do too. That means we won’t need your permission to take legal action. So, even if a dishonest lawyer, caregiver, or relative is willing to gamble that you won’t take legal action, they are going to have to worry about whether we will.

Market Intelligence. Individual lawyers can only collect information about the bad actors they come across while serving their clients, and they cannot easily share that information with each other unless those bad actors wind up in court. When you work with SafetyDeed, you have the benefit of our knowledge of the bad actors, trends, and methods we encounter nationwide, including the scammers who never get prosecuted or sued.

Cost. We offer lifetime protection for what a lawyer would charge for just a few hours of work. We charge the same fees regardless of your home’s value. Transaction fees (if any) are pegged at 75% of the paralegal rate in the District of Columbia and fixed for five years. Afterward, they can only increase by 3% per year. There are no monthly or maintenance fees.

Technology. Most lawyers do not understand public-key cryptography. We do, and we have applied for a patent to protect our method of using cryptography to protect titles.

Yes. You can add and remove Reviewers at any time. We charge a fee (currently $50) for adding a Reviewer more than 90 days after you sign up.

No. As your fiduciary, we are prohibited from receiving fees or commissions from third parties, such as mortgage brokers, lenders, and real estate agents. We also do not pay commissions or referral fees. Our only financial relationship is with you.

No. SafetyDeed will not be your guardian, conservator, or trustee. The only power we will have is requiring you to get a lawyer if we believe it would be in your best interests to have one.

Yes. Because we are concerned about someone forcing you to cancel your contract so they can take advantage of you, the request will have to come through your lawyer and we will alert your Reviewers.

No. We will not pay your legal expenses. 

No. Fraud, abuse, and incapacity are complex human problems that legal tools and technology cannot fully solve. We cannot guarantee that you will not enter into an enforceable agreement that harms your interests. The most we can do is put procedures in place to make it harder for scammers to succeed.

Yes, absolutely. A SafetyDeed contract is a powerful legal instrument that will affect your rights in your property. Once you sign it, you will no longer be able to sell, mortgage, or give away your home without going through the process you paid us to enforce. 

You should carefully review your contract and discuss it with your lawyer before deciding whether to sign it. We will be happy to speak with your lawyer.

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