Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Multiple Documents

Multiple documents continue to cause confusion. The latest instance was a Scrivener’s Error Affidavit. Massachusetts General Laws chapter 183, section 5B states “an affidavit made by a person claiming to have personal knowledge of the facts therein stated and containing a certificate by an attorney at law that the facts stated in the affidavit are relevant to the title to certain land and will be of benefit and assistance in clarifying the chain of title may be filed for record and shall be recorded in the registry of deeds where the land or any part thereof lies.” Is this merely an affidavit (with a recording fee of $75) or is it a multiple document, a combination of an affidavit and a certificate (with a recording fee of $150)? Personally, I would treat this as a single document and charge one fee, but I understand that even within this registry, we might handle it either way. If we can’t even be consistent within this same office, it’s doubtful that all registries are doing things exactly the same. It’s exceedingly difficult to formulate an easy to apply rule that distinguishes between single and multiple documents. Some documents are clearly multiples – today we recorded one that assigned four different mortgages from four different borrowers on four different properties with four different book and page references. Based on our indexing practices, this has to be treated like four different documents even though it was all contained on a single piece of paper. But other documents, such as the Scrivener’s Error Affidavit, create a less compelling case to be treated as a multiple document. I’ll be returning to this topic in the near future since it certainly requires some clarification. In the meantime, I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on this topic, so please leave some comments.

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