Real Estate Law Steps to Preparing a Valid Deed

According to the ‘Lectric Law Library Lexicon, a deed is a legal document used to record changes in ownership of real estate. The grant deed is the one most often used. It transfers a property title with warranties and is very similar to a general warranty deed. Special warranty deeds are used when there are uncertainties about a property, such as previous ownership or liabilities. In some cases a quitclaim deed is used to sell property “as is.” It is very important that a deed is prepared correctly, since it is in most cases the only proof of ownership a person can provide, if ownership should be contested in a court of law.

1. Obtain a form

Joe Stone states in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Home Guides section that different jurisdictions require different legal language and content. Local real estate agents or legal stationary stores have preprinted grant deed forms in the appropriate format.

Forms can also be acquired online from the website of a government recorder’s office. Another way of preparing a grant deed is to use an online legal service, such as Rocket Lawyer.

2. Fill in the grantee’s information

The grantee is the person to receive the property. The upper left-hand corner of the form has spaces for the name and address of the grantee. All correspondence pertaining to the property will be sent to this address.

3. Insert the parcel number

This part of the form must contain the exact assessor’s parcel number. The county recorder’s office or the county assessor’s website has this information. According to eHow Money, the parcel number can also be found on a property tax bill or the preliminary title report.

4. Calculate the documentary transfer tax

Taxes are based on the full value of the property. The amounts of any remaining liens against the property at the time of transfer can be deducted from the full property value. If the property is in an unincorporated area, a different tax rate may apply. The local government assessor’s office or website can provide the needed information.

5. Fill in the grantor’s section

This part of the form contains the necessary language to complete the transfer. The grantor’s name is placed in the first blank space and the grantee’s name in the second. The third blank space is for the insertion of the city and county where the property is located.

6. Complete the property’s legal description

The description should be taken verbatim from a prior grant deed or a title report for the same property.  It must be 100% accurate if future difficulties in the transference of the property are to be avoided.

7. Sign and record the grant deed

A notary public has to witness the signatures of both grantor and grantee. The deed should then be recorded with the county recorder or assessor to make it valid and a legally enforceable document. At that time, the documentary transfer tax becomes due and a recording fee is charged.

It is advisable to have a knowledgeable attorney look over the document before this last step is taken, because even a small mistake could make a grant deed invalid.