Deeds in Ohio
50 Causes for
The term title has two meanings.
Title to real estate means the right to or ownership of the land;
represents the owners bundle of rights. Title also serves as evidence
of that ownership. A person who holds the title would, if challenged in
court, be able to recover or retain ownership or possession of a parcel of
real estate. "Title" is just a way of referring to ownership; it is not
an actual printed document. The document that shows who holds title to real
property is the deed. The deed must be recorded to give public notice of the
The laws of Ohio govern real estate
transactions for land located within its boundaries. Ohio has the authority
to pass legislative acts that affect the methods of transferring title or
other interests in real estate.
Real estate may be transferred
voluntarily by sale or gift. Alternatively, it may be transferred
involuntarily by operation of law. Real estate may be transferred while
the owner lives or by will or descent after the owner dies. In any case, it
is the title that is transferred as a symbol of ownership.
Voluntary alienation is the legal term for
the voluntary transfer of title. The owner may voluntarily transfer title by
gift or selling the property. To transfer one's during lifetime, the owner
must use some form of deed of conveyance.
A deed is the written instrument by
which an owner of real estate intentionally conveys the right, title, or
interest in the parcel of real estate to someone else. The statue of frauds
requires that all deeds be in writing. The owner who transfers the title is
referred to as the grantor. The person or
entity who acquires the title is the grantee.
A deed is executed (signed) only by the grantor.
Deeds, grants, and patents
all follow a particular form. The exact details of the form will vary from
state to state, but the overall structure remains the same. The start and
finish of a deed tend to have the most "boilerplate", or canned legal
wording. The property description is found in the middle of the deed.
Requirements for a valid deed: To be valid in Ohio, a
deed must be in writing. The other formal requirements for a valid deed are
A grantor must be of lawful age, in
Ohio at lease 18 years old. A deed executed by a minor is generally
voidable. A grantor must also be of sound mind. Generally, any grantor who
can understand the action is viewed as mentally capable of executing a valid
deed. A deed executed by someone who was mentally impaired at the time is
voidable, but not void. If, however, the grantor has been judged legally
incompetent, the deed will be void. Real estate owned by someone who is
legally incompetent can be conveyed only with a court's approval. In Ohio, a
grantor's spouse is required to join in and sign any deed of conveyance in
order to waive any marital (dower) rights.
The grantor's name must be spelled
correctly and consistently throughout the deed. If the grantor's name has
been changed since the title was acquired, as when a person changes his or
her name by marriage, both names should be shown-for example, "Mary Smith,
formerly Mary Jones."
To be valid, a deed must name a grantee. The grantee must be specifically
named so that the person to whom the property is being conveyed can be
readily identified from the deed itself. If more than one grantee is
involved, the granting clause should specify their rights in the property.
The clause might state, for instance, that the grantees will "take title as
joint tenants" or "tenants in common". This is especially important when
specific wording is necessary to create a joint tenancy.
Consideration. A valid deed must
contain a clause acknowledging that the grantor has received consideration.
Generally, the amount of consideration is stated in dollars. When a deed
conveys real estate as a gift to a relative, love and affection may be
sufficient consideration. However, in most states, including Ohio, it is
customary to recite a nominal consideration, such as "$10.00 and other
good and valuable consideration".
Clause. A deed must contain a
granting clause that states the grantor's intention to convey the
property. Depending on the type of deed and the obligations agreed to by the
grantor, the wording would be similar to one of the following:
|"I, John Smith, convey and
|"I, Mary Smith, grant..."|
|"I, Henry Jones, grant, bargain,
|"I, Susan Jones, remise, release,
A deed that conveyed the grantor's
entire fee simple interest usually contains wording such as "to ABC and to
her heirs and assigns forever." If the grantor conveys less than his or her
complete interest, such as a life estate, the wording must indicate this
limitation-for example, "to ABC for the duration of her natural life."
Clause. When it is necessary to define
or explain the ownership to be employed by the grantee, a habendum clause
may follow the granting clause. The habendum clause begins with the words
to have and to hold. Its provisions must agree with those stated in the
granting clause. For example, if a grantor conveys a time-share interest or
an interest less than fee simple absolute, the habendum clause will specify
the owner's rights as well as how those rights are limited (a specific time
frame or certain prohibited activities, for instance).
description of the real estate. To be
valid, a deed must contain an accurate legal description of the real estate
conveyed. Land is considered adequately described if a competent surveyor
can locate the property using the description.
Exceptions and reservations. A
valid deed must specifically note any encumbrances, reservations, or
limitations that affect the title being conveyed. This might include such
things as restrictions and easements that run with the land. In addition to
citing existing encumbrances, a grantor may reserve some right in the land
(such as an easement) for his or her own use. A grantor also may place
certain restrictions on a grantee's use of the property. Developers often
restrict the number of houses that may be built on each lot in a
subdivision. Such private restrictions must be stated in the deed or
contained in a previously recorded document (such as the subdivider's master
deed) that is expressly referred to in the deed. Many of these deed
restrictions have time limits and often include renewal clauses.
Signature of Grantor. To be valid, a
deed must be signed by all grantors named in the deed. As discussed earlier,
when a grantor is married, the spouse also must sign the deed in order to
release dower or other rights. Ohio permits an "attorney-in-fact" to sign
for a grantor. The attorney must act under a power of attorney, the
specific written authority to execute and sign one or more legal instruments
for another person. The power of attorney must be acknowledged, and the
power of attorney must give the attorney-in-fact specific authority to act
in a real estate transaction. The power of attorney terminates when the
person on whose behalf it is exercised dies. As a result, adequate evidence
must be submitted that the grantor was alive at the time the
attorney-in-fact signed the deed.
Acknowledgement. Often, there is a
legal requirement that signatures be acknowledged. An acknowledgement
is a formal declaration that the person who signs a written document does so
voluntary and that his or her signature is genuine. The declaration is made
before a notary public or an authorized public officer, such as a judge, a
justice of the peace, or some other person as prescribed by state law. An
acknowledgement usually states that the person signing the deed or other
document is known to the officer or has produced sufficient identification
to prevent a forgery. The form of acknowledgement required by the state
where the property is located should be used even if the party signing is a
resident of another ("foreign") state. In Ohio, an unacknowledged deed is
not eligible for recording. While in Ohio the grantor's signature must be
notarized, the notary serves as a witness to the grantor's signing.
Delivery and acceptance. A title is
not considered transferred until the deed is actually delivered to
and accepted by the grantee. The grantor may deliver the deed to the
grantee either personally or through a third party. The third party,
commonly known as an escrow agent (or settlement agent) will deliver the
deed to the grantee as soon as certain requirements have been satisfied.
Title is said to "pass" only when a deed is delivered and accepted. The
effective date of the transfer of title from the grantor to the grantee is
the date of delivery of the deed itself. When a deed is delivered in escrow,
the date of delivery generally relates back to the date it was deposited
with the escrow agent.
A deed must be recorded in the office
of the county recorder in the county in which the property is located. A
deed executed outside Ohio must be acknowledged properly according to the
laws of Ohio or of the state in which the deed is prepared and executed.
When a deed has been recorded for more than 21 years and there is a defect
in the deed, the defect is considered corrected if is a defect in witnessing
or acknowledgement. The name of the person who prepared the deed must be
shown at the conclusion.