( Originally Published 1918 )
A Deed is an instrument in writing whereby real estate or some interest therein is conveyed.
A Deed When Delivered is good as between the parties, but in order to protect the purchaser's rights it must be filed at the office of the county recorder. If a deed be not recorded and the seller executes another deed and this other deed is recorded, the first buyer loses his claim to the property, and has no recourse other than a suit against the seller, for damages. Recording a deed is vitally essential to good title.
A Seal (or its equivalent, usually a scroll made with a pen around the word "seal") is necessary in Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Mary-land, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. In all the states deeds by corporations must be under seal.
The seal of a deed imports consideration.
Names of Parties.—The maker of the deed is called the grantor, the party to whom it is delivered the grantee.
Requisites of a Valid Deed.—l. Competent parties. 2. Consideration. 3. The deed must be reduced to writing. 4. It must be duly executed and delivered. If signed by an agent or attorney, the seal should be that of the principal, and the authority of the agent to use the seal should itself be under seal. To be effective against third parties it must be duly acknowledged and recorded. (See Acknowledgments.)
The Consideration on which the deed is based may be either good (as for love and affection), or valuable (as for money or other property). It is customary, though not necessary, to mention some nominal sum, as one dollar, even when no money price is paid.
The Property to be conveyed should be de-scribed by boundaries as minutely as possible. The safest way to describe is to copy faithfully the legal description as shown in a certified abstract of title.
When Wife Must Join.—When the wife has dower or homestead to be released, as in most states, she must join with the husband in the deed. A husband and wife may, by a joint deed, convey the real estate of the wife; and in some of the states her acknowledgment must be taken apart from her husband. (See Acknowledgments.)
Acknowledgment.—The mode and effect of an acknowledgment or of a deed is in most states governed by the law of the state where the land lies, and not by that of the place where the acknowledgment is taken. Where the deed is executed by an attorney in fact, it is customary to have the power of attorney acknowledged by the principal and the deed acknowledged by the attorney.
Separate Acknowledgment by wife is required in Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas.
Witnesses.—It is always best that the execution of the deed should be witnessed, even though not required by statute. A witness should have no interest in the deed. Therefore in some states a wife is not a proper witness of a deed to her husband. No witness is required in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, or West Virginia, but deed must be acknowledged for record. One witness required in Delaware, Idaho, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Wyoming. Two witnesses required in Alabama, Arkansas (unless acknowledged), Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont, Wisconsin.
The Estate Passes upon the actual delivery of the deed. If it is retained until the grantor's death, it becomes void and of no effect. But where it is delivered to a third person to transfer to the grantee upon the happening of some event, as the death of the grantor, the estate will pass upon that final delivery. Such a deed is called an escrow.
Recording.—The object of the public recording of a deed is not to give validity as between the grantor and grantee, but to protect the grantee against subsequent bona fide purchasers or mortgagees, and against the grantor's creditors.
Summary.-Deeds should be signed, sealed, witnessed, acknowledged, delivered, and re-corded.
Caution! Do not purchase real estate without first having the title carefully examined by a competent lawyer or title company. Under the Torrens Land Title System, in use in some states, titles are passed upon by a qualified examiner, and where found valid, a description of the property is placed on the registration books, and a certificate of ownership issued to the party en-titled thereto.