The settlement went off without a hitch. The checks were issued and the parties left.
Several hours later the couple who had been issued a check for the settlement proceeds returned with the check and asked the title agent to instead wire the funds as the bank would take 24-48 hours to clear the check.
Unbeknownst to the title agent the couple had used a "smart phone" app to take a picture of the front and back of the check to make an immediate deposit. When the couple gave the check back to the title agent there were no marks or other indicators that the check had entered the system. The title agent, wanting to accommodate its customer, put the check in the file and proceeded to make the wire transfer!
It would seem prudent practice that once a check has been placed in a party's hand, and certainly if its left the settlement room, there can be no exchange until a satisfactory period has passed. The settlement officer conducting the closing should make it known that once the check is given there is no alternative allowing the parties the chance to alter the payment method prior to any check being released.
Many of the larger institutions are pushing the idea of the Smart Phone App which allows a snap-shot of the instrument to be presented for payment or deposit electronically. As marvelous and efficient as this Smart Phone process may be the settlement agent needs to guard against chicanery!!