March 19, 2020
We have been advised that some Probate Courts have either closed or are limiting access in light of the current health concerns. 
In an ongoing effort to assist our Agents in effectively responding to the disruption resulting from the pandemic (COVID-19) and in mitigating and containing its effects, CATIC takes this opportunity to remind its Agents that some Court records, including Probate and Family Court, Land Court, Housing Court, Superior Court, District Court, and the BMC, are now available online to all Massachusetts attorneys via the Massachusetts Trial Court Electronic Case Access portal. 
Access portal at . Once a user clicks on to “log on” (upper right-hand corner of the screen), this will bring the user to the sign-in page. Your username is the email address associated with the Board of Bar Overseers registration. If you click on “Forgot Password,” the system will send you a link to set up a new password. Once you have set up your new password, you will be able to sign in and access images through the various Courts, including the Probate Court. 
While not all images are available in all Probate Court cases, this is a useful tool in many current and recent Probate cases. (Note: we were able to access documents from a 1946 probate!) 
CATIC reaffirms that it is providing gap coverage in its title policies, with no limitation on the size of the policy , due to the closure of a Registry of Deeds that prevents documents from being recorded immediately after the closing.  Click here for our Memo on gap coverage.
We have also prepared a video that explains how gap coverage works. Click here to see the video.
In an effort to best protect our Agents and the Company, we ask that Agents make every effort to have the owner execute the attached Gap Indemnity .
The Standard and Expanded owner’s and loan policy forms contain automatic gap coverage provisions that effectively insure against loss resulting from any defect, lien, or encumbrance attaching or recorded between the date of policy and the date the insured deed or mortgage is recorded. Therefore, you should date your policies the date of closing. In doing so, the gap between date of closing and date of actual recording will be insured automatically. No endorsement is needed or required.
To simplify the process for our Agents, however, and recognizing that different lenders and their lawyers have different requirements and procedures for the dating and completion of the title policy, the Company is providing gap coverage whether or not the issued CATIC policy is dated the date of closing OR the date of the recording.
We have been notified that several municipalities are ceasing the issuance of smoke detector certificates. While M.G.L. ch. 148, §§26E and 26F require that the property shall be equipped by the seller with approved smoke detectors, the delivery of a smoke detector certificate is a lender requirement. If the seller is unable to provide a smoke detector certificate for closing, you should verify with the lender that the lender is willing to waive this requirement. The requirement to obtain a smoke detector certificate is part of the lender’s closing instructions. Therefore, you should obtain this waiver in writing . If the lender is not willing to waive the smoke detector certificate, you will need to look to the lender for guidance as to how to proceed. It is our understanding that some lenders are requiring escrow holdbacks in order to close. It is our further understanding that efforts to pass legislation to address this issue are underway.
We want to acknowledge that we are aware of the fact that you may be receiving updates from other sources on the status of various Registries of Deeds, and you may wonder why CATIC is not providing you with this information. As this is a fluid situation which changes not only daily but, in some instances, several times a day, we have made a conscious decision not to provide this information so as to avoid providing misinformation. For example, we are aware of a situation where a Registry of Deeds admittedly had misinformation on its own website. Accordingly, we would prefer not to publish incorrect information, and we recommend that you contact the various Registries of Deeds to confirm their current status before attempting to record. 
CATIC will continue to monitor the situation and may send out revisions to these guidelines as circumstances warrant. As always, our staff is ready to help you in any way that we can. Please click here for contact information.
Please continue to check out our dedicated webpage for COVID-19 information and guidance, on a regular basis. We will be updating the material as we learn of new developments.