When you purchase a home, a title company will research the property to ensure that you are the rightful owner. They'll look through records for anything that might cause problems-ownership disputes, restrictions, unpaid taxes, liens, and more. Their goal is to document the chain of title and identify any issues that could become major problems down the road.
At the end of the process, the title company issues a title opinion. This is a legal document that states that the title is valid. The title opinion is part of obtaining title insurance. The insurance protects both the owner and the lender if there is a title dispute. If another party is actually the rightful owner of the home, your title insurance protects you from financial loss.
In addition to title opinions and title insurance, title companies also handle escrow accounts and distribute money to the appropriate parties at closing. They'll also deliver closing documents to the appropriate agencies.