Your church’s title is more important than you might think
Does your church have plans to build, expand, or improve its property? There are a few important things to consider before moving forward—things you might not have thought of that, if overlooked, could grind your plans to a halt.
The Cornerstone Fund is fortunate to work with Susan Chartier, General Counsel for Brennan Title Company in Washington DC. An expert on church property, Susan shares her wisdom in this area.
1] Know how the real property you own is titled and make sure it’s correct.
- Many churches own several parcels of land that make up their entire property and have been deeded to them over the years (church building, parking lots, parsonages, etc.).
- In many cases, one or more deeds will list either an incorrect name or, if a church has changed its name, the former name.
2] Incorporated churches (ruled by their Articles of Incorporation, filed in their State, and their Constitution or By-Laws) must make sure their property is titled in the exact name as shown in the Articles of Incorporation.
- The Articles state the full and correct name of the church, and the Constitution or By-Laws should set forth how the title is to be held (i.e., in the church’s name or the trustees of the church).
3] Keep copies of all of your properties’ deeds. Review to make sure they’re titled correctly.
4] Have your Articles of Incorporation, any amendments, and current Constitution or By-Laws readily available before you begin the borrowing process.
5] Review your Constitution or By-Laws to determine what actions need to be taken to borrow money (i.e., whether a majority vote of the Trustee Board is sufficient or if there needs to be a vote at a congregational meeting).
6] Keep your corporate status updated so you remain in “Good Standing” as a corporation in your state of residence.
- If you are not in “Good Standing,” you’ll need to file the necessary corporate documents with the corporate division of your state government before you can borrow.
- Incorrectly titled property can delay your plans. The church must have all property correctly titled before borrowing and to be in “Good Standing.”
Having knowledge of the above information and being prepared can help smooth the borrowing process!
Those who wish to contact Susan may do so by emailing her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.