Once your mortgage is paid off, you need your deed, canceled documents from your lender and to take your lender off your insurance policy.

Q: In early 1997, I purchased a home in Gwinnett County, Georgia. I have since paid off my mortgage and have a question I hope you can answer.

I received a letter from my lender indicating my loan was paid in full effective May 9, 2012. I have never paid of a mortgage before so I do not know what happens next. Should I expect any type of further documentation from the bank of the county to indicate the title or deed (I do not know the correct term) is in my name? Are there any proactive steps that I need to take with respect to the mortgage?

Any assistance you can provide will be appreciated.

A: Congratulations on making your last mortgage payment. With nearly 25 percent of Americans underwater with their loans, there are millions of homeowners who would love to be in your shoes.

Once your loan is paid off, there are a few things you should do and be aware of. First, make sure you received the canceled documents back from the lender. Frequently lenders will mail the canceled note and mortgage (or trust deed) back to the borrower. When you receive the canceled documents back, you can place them in your house file or scan them into your computer so that you have an electronic record. And then you’ll know that the lender has truly ended their interest in your property.

More important than the canceled documents – even though they are quite important – is for your lender to send a document to the office that records documents where you live evidencing that the mortgage lien on your property has been released. In the case of a deed in trust, the release from the lender releases the deed back to the homeowner.

Either of these two documents, when properly filed or recorded, will give notice to the world that your prior lender no longer has an interest in a loan on your property.

The next important matter to take care of is to call your homeowner’s insurance company and request that they remove your former lender’s name from the policy. At some point when you had the mortgage, your lender requested that they be added as an additional insured on your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Now that they are no longer your lender, they should not be listed on the policy. Worse, if you have a claim and they are still on the policy, you might have to deal with the lender to get any money you are owed from the insurance company. You want to avoid that from happening. So, make the call today.

Once you’ve taken care of those three items, you should be in pretty good shape. In some cases, the lender will send the release to you and you must then make sure that it gets filed or released with the proper governmental body.

Again, congratulations on paying off your loan.