Benchmark Title Company, LLC


This week's Title Tip discusses the use of Certificates of Release by a title company to release a mortgage paid off at closing.     

Certificates of Release
by John Howe, President & Sarah Holdener, Esq.

As a title company, it is our responsibility to issue a Loan Policy and an Owners Policy of Title Insurance after closing and disbursing on a new loan.  Before closing we request a Payoff Letter from the prior mortgage holder, and based on that letter, we disburse funds from closing to payoff the old mortgage.  Historically we would not issue the Loan and Owners Policies until the prior mortgage was properly released and recorded in the County Recorder's Office.  However, in some cases title companies would issue the policy relying on proof of payoff in their closing file.  Of course, as was often the case, a new transaction would occur sometime down the road, and that old mortgage would show up on title as an open lien.  I'm not pointing fingers here, but sometimes those releases of mortgage never made it from the lender to the Recorder of Deeds, causing delays with new closing as the new title company worked to get a "Hold Harmless Letter" from the title company who closed the prior transaction.  Getting a Hold Harmless Letter from the other title company was sometimes a frustrating and time consuming project, especially if records were stored offsite, or if the old title company was no longer in business.  If the Hold Harmless Letter couldn't be obtained, the new title company would have to track down the old lender to get the required release.

In response to this problem, the State of Illinois passed Public Act 93-428, which took effect January 1, 2004, permitting title companies to file a "Certificate of Release" with the Recorder of Deeds in any county in the State of Illinois, after having fulfilled the requirements of the act, in lieu of recording a Release of Mortgage from the lender.  It should be noted that the Certificate of Release may only be used for full releases of mortgages on one-to-four family residential properties where the original loan amount is less than $500,000.00.  The recording the Certificate of Release has the same effect as the recording of a Release of Mortgage from the lender in that it releases the lien of the mortgage from the property.  The difference is that a Certificate of Release is prepared at closing by the title company, under the lender's authority, and it goes on record within days of closing, rather than weeks or months later as used to be the case.  This permits us to issue the Loan and Owners Policies of Title Insurance much more quickly than before.

At Benchmark Title we have taken the step one big notch further in that we now issue both the Loan Policy and Owners Policy of Title Insurance at the same time as we close the transaction.  The lender and the owner receive full coverage at the moment we disburse the funds and can leave the closing with a policy in their hands.  No more waiting for what we refer to as "trailing documents."  You are covered, and we prove it at the closing table.  More information on policies issued at the closing table can be obtained by contacting Michelle Null, VP Escrow Operations, at 618-239-3750 or by email at

Any questions can be directed to Benchmark Title at 618-239-3750. Please feel free to call or email: 

John Howe

Doreen Miller, Esq.
Commercial Division Manager

Sarah Holdener, Esq.
General Counsel,
VP Production

Michelle Null
VP Escrow Operations

Serving you from three convenient locations:

Main Office:
1124 Hartman Lane
Shiloh, IL 62221
Ph: 618-239-3750
Escrow Fax: 618-239-3707
Title Fax: 618-239-3757
Fax Orders: 618-310-1589
President: John Howe

318 North Main St.
Columbia, IL 62236
Ph: 618-281-9700
Fax: 618-281-9705
Manager: Randi Schur

4215 S. State Rte 159
Glen Carbon, IL 62034
Ph: 618-288-1695
Fax: 618-288-1852
Manager: Sara Sowell

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   Employee Spotlight

 Kim Adams

Kim Adams joined Benchmark Title nearly three years ago, in September 2004.  She serves Benchmark's customers as Receptionist and "Director of First Impressions" in our main branch in Shiloh, IL.  Before venturing into title insurance, Kim spent many years in retail management and the health insurance industry, though she declined to say exactly how many years.  Kim says her favorite thing about her job is the part she plays in making your experience in our office as pleasant as possible, and suggests your experience would be even more pleasant if you remember to bring two forms of ID to closing.  Kim resides in Belleville with her husband, Len.  She has two children, Megan, 28, and Joshua, 24.  She can be reached at 618-239-3750 or by email at

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