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Deeds in Ohio

50 Causes for
Title Defects

Deed Information

The term title has two meanings. Title to real estate means the right to or ownership of the land;
it 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 holder's ownership.

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 as follows:

bulletA Grantor (seller) who has the legal capacity to execute (sign) the deed;
bulletA Grantee (buyer) named with reasonable certainty to be identified;
bulletA recital of consideration;
bulletA granting clause (words of conveyance);
bulletA "habendum clause" (to define ownership taken by the Grantee);
bulletA legal description of the property being conveyed;
bulletAny relevant exceptions or reservations;
bulletThe signature of the Grantor, sometimes with a seal and acknowledgement;
bullet Delivery of the deed and acceptance by the Grantee to pass title;
bullet Acknowledgement; (notarized) and
bulletFor the deed to be recorded, the name of the person preparing the deed.

Grantor. 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."  back

Grantee. 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.   back

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".    back

Granting 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:

bullet"I, John Smith, convey and warrant..."
bullet"I, Mary Smith, grant..."
bullet"I, Henry Jones, grant, bargain, and sell..."
bullet"I, Susan Jones, remise, release, and quitclaim..."

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."    back

Habendum 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).   back

Legal 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.    back

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.    back

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.    back

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.    back

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.    back

Recordation. 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.    back



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