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What does an Escrow Attorney do?

By Diane Barnard
Updated May 16, 2024
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An escrow attorney specializes in handling the details of business and real estate transfers. Escrow provides a means for two parties to exchange valuables by using a third party. An escrow attorney is this third, neutral individual and does not represent either party; the attorney's actions are mutually beneficial. Acting in this capacity, the attorney drafts the escrow instructions, prepares legal documents, files or records the documents after the transaction is complete and makes certain that all escrow instructions are followed. Many transfers of money or property use escrow to insure a risk-free transaction.

The escrow instructions prepared by the attorney must be agreeable to both parties entering into the contract. These instructions generally contain certain elements. They state the beginning and ending dates for the escrow. This insures the transaction takes place in a timely manner. The amount of money to be delivered to escrow and how the money is to be received and held is specified.

Which documents will be delivered to escrow is spelled out in the instructions. There is an authorization for the attorney to disperse funds and to pay any prior liens against the property or business. What conditions need to be met in order to end escrow are stipulated.

There are many legal documents involved in business and real estate transfers. It is important for these instruments to be accurate and reflect the needs and desires of both parties. An escrow lawyer prepares these documents for both parties. In a real estate sale, these documents can include restrictive and protective covenants, the deed and quit claim deeds. A business deal might require various contracts and documents in addition to a contract for sale.

When the sale has been finalized, numerous documents must be filed or recorded. It is the escrow attorney’s job to dispose of these details. Deeds and mortgages need to be recorded at the county courthouse, and the corresponding fees and documentary stamps must be paid. Likewise, business documents must be filed with the proper entity.

All money, including funds from the lender, is held in the escrow account until the deal is closed. At the closing, all the documents and funds are finally exchanged. The attorney pays the seller, and the buyer receives the appropriate documents listing him or her as the current owner of the real estate or business. Throughout the process, the escrow attorney pays strict attention to each detail in the instructions. When all the terms of escrow have been fulfilled and the property has changed hands, the attorney closes escrow.

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