If you are in need of a deed to transfer a piece of real property, it is important to have it professionally prepared.
Times when you may need to request that a deed prepared
If you are buying or selling a home with the assistance of a realtor and title company, this will be taken care of for you. But there are some situations where people may be tempted to create a “DIY” (do-it-yourself) deed. Here are some examples:
- You are involved in a “for sale by owner” transaction without the involvement of attorney, realtor, or title company.
- You are trying to pass title (or give a portion of ownership), to a friend or family member in an “informal” transaction.
- Someone has died and the survivors or beneficiaries decide not to have a new deed drafted or recorded, leaving the property completely or partially titled in the name(s) of (a) deceased person(s).
- You settle a boundary dispute on your own, between the parties, but don’t want to go to the expense of a survey or professionally drawn deed.
- Any informal agreement between people (example: you take over my house payments, or maintain my home, or live on my property and mow it, and it’s yours in ten years”).
- You have a divorce and the property is awarded to one of the spouses.
Why not do-it-yourself?
Gee, what could go wrong? Here is a partial list:
- Someone that was part of the agreement changes their mind and does not want to follow through.
- A party to the agreement dies, the property goes to probate, and the result is not what the parties expected. For instance, a different beneficiary or a creditor fights for the property.
- The property becomes vulnerable to a creditor, or the taxing authority, and someone loses what they bargained for.
- The mortgage is not paid and the property goes into foreclosure.
- All parties to the agreement die, and the property is inherited by multiple others, some of whom cannot be found.
- In order to transfer the property at a later date, someone’s signature is needed, but they cannot be found, refuse to sign, or are no longer medically capable of signing a legal document.
Pay now or pay more later
It is relatively inexpensive to get a deed drawn up. Of course, if you need a survey first, that will be an additional cost.
Having to “fix” a title problem years, or decades later, can be very expensive, nerve-wracking, and time consuming. It is much harder than just taking care of the title transfer at the time of the transaction, or soon after. The longer the time goes by, the more difficult it can become as documents are lost, people lose contact, and cooperation levels and even mental capacity declines.
Blank forms that are sold online or in office supply stores can create numerous complications if they are not properly filled out and signed, or are not properly recorded in the property records. Doing-it-yourself runs those risks.
Some other situations that are similar:
- Property liens that have been cleared but not documented
- Judgments against property that have been fulfilled
- Leases that have not been put into writing
The above situations also relate to property and can create a lot of problems in the future if not properly dealt with.
How to protect yourself
Contracts related to real estate should be in writing as a properly prepared legal document.
Having a professionally prepared deed which is properly recorded can protect you from a host of legal problems, litigation, asset loss, and expense.