KGR Wants to Unsnarl Tangled Titles

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COUNCILMEMBER Katherine Gilmore Richardson has teamed up with colleague Jamie Gauthier to press for clearance of real-estate titles left in limbo after the owner’s death.

Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson introduced legislation to help prevent tangled titles in Philadelphia.

The Tangled Title Disclosure Bill requires funeral homes to share information, provided in partnership by the Department of Records and Register of Wills, about probating estates and avoiding tangled titles when they provide a death certificate. According to recent research from Pew, Philadelphia has at least 10,407 tangled titles, and half of these titles became tangled within the last decade. The vast majority of these tangled titles result from heirs not acting after the record owner of a property dies.

“Over a billion dollars in generational wealth is currently caught up in tangled titles and that is a low estimate,” said Councilmember Gilmore Richardson (at-Large). “Once a title is tangled, it is much harder to resolve, and many Philadelphians are unaware that they are not the legal record owner of a property until they run into a problem. By providing information about probating estates and how a title becomes tangled with death certificates, we will be educating residents about the proper next steps and reducing the number of people who end up with a tangled title.”

In addition to the Tangled Title Disclosure Bill, Councilmember Gilmore Richardson co-introduced a resolution with Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, chair of the Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development, and the Homeless, calling for hearings in the Committee to explore the issue of tangled titles.

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