Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Old indexes: get your copies now

Those of you who come to the registry and use our public search computers are familiar with our electronic version of the pre-1976 indexes. Everything back to 1629, both Grantor and Grantee, are available as “electronic books” in PDF format. For the past three years, we have tried repeatedly to make these indexes available on their website. Given their electronic size, that’s been a challenge. We were making real progress when the current budget crisis struck, forcing us to cut funds that had been allocated for the completion of that project and prompting us to alter our strategy.

Recently, registry employees began a massive back indexing project. We have began with documents recorded in 1975 and are indexing them directly into our computer system without regard to the manner in which they were previously indexed. This will ensure that the data in our searchable database is consistent and in compliance with the latest deed indexing standards. Despite our best efforts, this will be a lengthy project. In the meantime, we have decided to once again make the indexes in PDF format available to you in electronic form for your own use.

Formerly, we asked you to provide us with a set of CDs upon which we would copy the various indexes. This required more than a dozen CDs, making it very difficult for us to physically copy that many disks for the number of customers who wanted the data. But as is often the case, technology may have come to our rescue. The combined Grantor and Grantee indexes from 1629 to 1976 total 12.5 gigabytes of storage space. Today, you can purchase a “thumb drive” also known as a “flash drive” of 16 gigabyte capacity for about $40 (at Walmart, at least). So, if you wish to obtain a copy of our indexes, next time you come to the registry, bring a blank 16GB flash drive with you and we’ll make you a copy that you can then add to any and all of your computers.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Launch of indexing project approaches

Today we introduced our new indexing project to a group of registry employees. Commencing next week, we will begin indexing documents recorded prior to 1976 in reverse chronological order. While most of today’s discussion dealt with technical matters related to our computers and software, some substantive items were discussed. Here are four of them:

Index names and addresses in accordance with the current Deed Indexing Standards

“Thirty years ago, documents looked a lot different than they do now. For example, many mortgages look just like deeds. Look for either “quitclaim covenants” (makes it a deed) or “mortgage covenants” (makes it a mortgage).”

“Try to avoid indexing things as MULTIPLES even though you will see quite a few of them. Try to decide which is the dominant document and use that for the document type. For instance, a Deed might also contain a Vote – call it a Deed – or a Mortgage might also contain an Assignment – call that a Mortgage but be sure to add to the index the name of the party to whom it is being assigned to the index.”

“If the property address on a deed is not clearly identified (and in older deeds it usually isn’t), just leave that field blank. Do not use a street name from the description in the STREET field. ”

Watch for additional blog entries on this topic as the project progresses.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

"How do I take someone's name off of my deed?"

A name is never physically removed from a deed. To "take someone's name off of a deed" means conveying that person's interest in the property back to you or to someone else.

If that person is still alive, this conveyance is done by recording a new deed (one that conveys the property from him to you or someone else). The filing fee for recording a new deed is $125. There is no blank form available to use in creating the new deed. We strongly recommend using an attorney to prepare the new deed.

The procedure is different if the person whose name is to be removed is deceased. In the case of married couples, most own real estate as "tenants by the entirety" which means there is a right of survivorship. When one spouse dies, his interest in the property is extinguished and the surviving spouse automatically becomes the sole owner of the property. There is no need to create a new deeds since nothing is being transferred. To show the change in ownership, however, a death certificate for the deceased spouse should be recorded at the registry of deeds. The filing fee for a death certificate is $75.

If the deceased co-owner was not a spouse, then an automatic transfer also occurs if the co-owners held the property as "joint tenants" - look at the deed by which you and the decedent became owners to determine if this is the case. If it says "joint tenants" you need only record a death certificate. If it says "tenants in common" however, there is no right of survivorship and the decedent's estate must be probated to convey ownership of his portion of the property to someone else.

"How do I put another name on my deed?"

"Put another name on my deed" means that you want to make someone else a a co-owner of your property. To do this, you must convey an interest in the property to that person. You do this by creating a new deed that conveys an interest in the property from you (the current owner) to you and the new co-owner. This new deed should then be recorded at the registry of deeds. The filing fee for a deed is $125.

If you are selling this interest in the property to the other person, you (the seller) must also pay an excise tax based on the sales price. The tax rate is $2.28 per $500 (although a sale for $100 or less is exempt from the tax).

The registry does not provide blank deed forms. Technically, you can prepare a new deed yourself, but we strongly advise you to hire an attorney to do this for you. There are many consequences to owning a property jointly with another, so besides preparing the deed, an attorney will also advise you and your options and their consequences.