By Dan Barney
In previous weeks we discussed several types of deed and reviewed ways to title ownership in deeds. Each one, must however, include several critical elements, any one of which could impact the effectiveness of the document.
I. The Parties to a Deed. Any deed must name the person or entity who is transferring the property (Grantor, or Party of the First Part), and the person or entity who is receiving the property (the Grantee, or Party of the Second Part). To be effective the deed must also be notarized.
Several practical factors should also be included such as the address of the grantee(s) and an accurate, thorough legal description that properly describes the property to be transferred.
These factors become important if you consider that in the future someone will be tracing ownership of the parcel.
It will be much easier to track ownership if the names of persons are consistent from the deed under which they purchased the property to the deed under which they sold the property at a later date.
II. Recording. Although a legal transfer of ownership occurs at the time a deed is signed by the seller and delivered to the buyer, that deed must be recorded in the county records to have complete legal validity.
Recording provides “notice to the world” of the transfer and as a result provides a legal opportunity to anyone to step forward and contest the transfer if it is improper. The county records also become the source for all future research regarding the ownership of a parcel.
A title search and a title opinion are based upon a search of all recorded documents which affect any given parcel of land and insure that all previous transfers were made correctly, that the grantor did, in fact, own the property he was selling, that all claims of ownership against the property are recognized and that any mortgages or liens have been legally released.
An “Abstract” is merely a collection of all of these individual documents, bound together, to produce a complete history of the ownership and claims against a given property interest.
In Oklahoma, the time period covered by an Abstract extends from the original land grants from the United States to the Indian tribes and thence through allotments or grants to individual citizens up to the present owners.
III. Legal Property Description. Two methods are common to describe real property in a deed – legal descriptions by section grid or legal description by “meters and bounds” or survey.
A. Section Grid: The U.S. Geological Survey divides the country into a grid pattern.
The North-South divisions are Townships (ex. Township 5 North). The East-West divisions are Ranges (ex. Range 3 West). These grids are grouped around base lines and a meridian (ex. Indian Base Line/Meridian).
Within the grid each Range and Township includes 36 individually numbered Sections. Thus, Township 1 North, Range 1 West describes a specific square of 36 sections. Each Section includes 640 acres.
Consequently, this grid configuration can be used to define all parcels that are a specifically divisible portion of any given Section.
B. Metes and Bounds Many parcels are not a divisible part of a section and are consequently defined individually either by lineal dimensions and angular orientation or by a detailed survey description.
These descriptions are however, always generally located by identification within a specific Section, Township and Range but use dimensions such as for example, "from point A "x" feet North to point B, thence 235.12 Ft East to point C" Etc., Etc.
Often these dimensions are based upon a survey and may be recorded for an individual parcel or for a group of adjacent parcels on a survey map or plat. Such would be the case for a subdivision or other development.
Next week, we will review a few general comments about deeds and additional requirements to insure that property is properly transferred.