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Legal Q&A: Delivery of Instruments to Mortgage Borrowers Requirements in Wisconsin

By Scott Birrenkott

Q: Does Wisconsin Require Delivery of Instruments to Mortgage Borrowers after Payoff?

A: Yes. Wisconsin requires delivery of the instrument, and, depending on the transaction, other payoff requirements.

WBA is frequently asked whether banks must provide a copy of a note to the borrower at time of payoff. Wisconsin law requires provision of a payoff statement, and for Wisconsin Consumer Act transactions, the bank must provide a copy of the “instrument.” A copy of the note would meet that requirement.

Wisconsin’s payoff statement requirements can be found under Wis. Stat. section 708.15(3). That section requires that the bank must file and give the secured creditor notification within 30 days after receiving full payment or performance of the secured obligation. Additionally, for loans covered by the Wisconsin Consumer Act, Wis. Stat. section 422.306 provides several requirements regarding receipts, accounting, and evidence of payment. One such requirement is that the bank must give or forward to the customer instruments which acknowledge payment in full. It also requires release of any security interest when there is no outstanding secured obligation.

“Instrument” is a defined term under Uniform Commercial Code Article 9. An “instrument” means a negotiable instrument or any other writing that evidences a right to the payment of a monetary obligation, is not itself a security agreement or lease, and is of a type that in ordinary course of business is transferred by delivery with any necessary endorsement or assignment.

A note would meet the definition of “instrument” under Article 9. WBA is also frequently asked whether it must be the “original” instrument or a reproduction of such item provided to the borrower. This question is not addressed within the statutes. Thus, the bank should check with its practices in relation to the requirements. For example, it could be that the bank has a practice of providing the original stamped “paid,” to provide the borrower with documentation that the obligation has had been paid directly on the original. It might also be a decision which is made as a matter of best practice, as then there can be no question as to whether the original was paid.

If you have any questions on this topic or other matters of compliance, contact WBA’s legal call program at 608-441-1200 or wbalegal@wisbank.com.