A deed is a legal instrument that is used to prove who has the ownership rights (title) to a property. This is the individual or individuals who have the legal right to access, use, sell or gift the specific property. Without this document, they would not be able to take these actions.
Further, the deed is the legal vehicle used to transfer property from one party to another. For instance, if a property owner were to sell their property, they would use the deed to transfer the ownership title to the buyer.
As you might imagine, it is extremely important for this legal document to be accurate and free of errors. Alas, human error happens from time to time. If you are taking a look at your deed and realize that there’s a typo or other recording error on it, you’ll want to get it corrected immediately. This guide will share how to correct an error in a deed so you can get it fixed straight away and prevent title defects.
Potential errors to look for on a recorded deed
If you feel like you might have an error on your deed, don’t worry. Mistakes and typos happen, and luckily there’s a way to correct them. This is a great reminder to review your deed and make sure you don’t have any mistakes on it that could inadvertently be creating a title defect.
Here are some potential errors to look out for:
The property legal description is incorrect or insufficient.
The legal title holder name is incorrect or uses a nickname.
The consideration amount is wrong.
The notary seal on the deed is missing.
The deed has no subscribing witnesses.
The acknowledgments are missing or defective.
Witness name is misspelled.
Marital status of the grantor is missing (in the case of a non-homestead agreement).
Failure to obtain joinder of grantor’s spouse for a homestead property.
How to correct a deed: 3 ways to do It
The section above highlighted a number of common errors that are found on deeds. The big ones include typos, missing information, or the wrong information. If any of these apply to you, don’t worry. There are several ways for you to correct your deed. The method you’ll end up using ultimately depends on the state in which your property is located, as well as the type of error on your deed.
Here are 3 common ways to correct a deed:
Keep reading the next three sections, which explain how each of these three methods is used to correct deeds. Note that none of these methods replace or delete incorrect deeds. Instead, they are publicly recorded documents that reference your incorrect deed and specify how it should be corrected.
What is a warranty/quitclaim deed?
A warranty deed is a type of deed that offers a property buyer the highest level of protection. The seller is providing a warranty stating that if any title issues were to arise, the buyer will not be held liable. Check out our how warranty deeds work article to learn more.
Warranty deeds are often conflated with quitclaim deeds, although they are very different from one another. They are both deed instruments that are used to transfer property title. However, they differ in the manner in which they transfer titles. A quitclaim deed offers no protection to the party receiving a property, and is thus often used in the transfer of real estate when there is no monetary transaction.
By using a quitclaim deed, a property owner is merely transferring their personal interest in a property to a recipient. They are commonly used when there is a divorce, or when there are multiple owners within a family. For instance, if a married couple gets divorced, then one spouse can use a quitclaim deed to transfer the property title to their ex-spouse. In another example, let’s say two brothers purchased a condo together. They are equal interest holders in the property. One brother uses a quitclaim deed to get out of the property contract and transfers his personal property interest to the other brother, who will now be the sole owner.
So how are these deeds used to correct an error? To be clear, a warranty deed is rarely used to make a correction. However, you might choose to use a warranty deed if you can’t use a corrective instrument and are required to record a new deed entirely.
A quitclaim deed is a great way to make a correction if there is an issue related to the property title. They are a great way to remove someone from the deed if they should no longer be on it, especially in family matters that don’t include a financial transaction.
What is an affidavit of correction?
An Affidavit of Correction is a legal instrument that is used to fix errors or missing information on a publicly recorded record. For instance, if you’ve realized that you made an error on an official government or court document, you can use this Affidavit of Correction to make an amendment. Deeds are included in this category!
The Affidavit usually provides an outline describing the document, points out how the error appears, and provides the correct information. Affidavits are usually reserved for minor errors, such as a typo or a misspelling. For this reason, you should check with your local government regarding the type of error on your deed and the appropriate course of action.
Affidavits of Correction can be submitted by someone other than the individuals listed on the original deed, as long as they clearly state the reasons for why the correction is being made. They should also provide evidence that they notified the original parties or their heirs. Affidavits are usually prepared and submitted with the assistance of an attorney.
What is a correction deed?
A correction deed is a legal instrument used to correct errors on a publicly-recorded property title. You might also hear the terms corrective or confirmatory deed used interchangeably.
You can use this special type of deed to make amendments to common, minimal errors such as misspellings, typos, missing information, and incomplete names. If your deed has a defect in the way it was executed or acknowledged, you may also use a correction deed to amend it.
Note that a correction deed is not really a deed in the sense that it can’t be used to transfer title. It references the original deed and points out errors along with the respective correct information.
For more information on correction deeds, be sure to read our correction deed guide.
Review your estate plan for Errors
If you’ve realized that there is an error on your deed, hopefully, this guide provided you with some reassurance that mistakes happen and that you can remedy this situation. We provided several ideas on how to correct an error on a deed, including recording a new deed or recording an affidavit or correction deed.
Before you do anything, we strongly recommend that you first visit your local county clerk or recorder’s office and inform them of the error on your deed. They will provide you with counseling on what actions you can take and which instrument to use, based on your local regulations. You can also choose to consult a real estate attorney.
The type of corrective instrument you’ll end up using depends on state laws as well as the type and severity of the error on your deed. If you’re lucky, you’ll just need to record a correction deed or an affidavit. In some cases, however, you might be required to record a new deed entirely.
The only thing you absolutely should not do is to do nothing. Even if an error might seem as minimal as a slight typo, it could end up proving to be fatal when it comes to transferring your property title later on, such as through your estate plan.
Speaking of your estate plan, this should also serve as a reminder to review your estate planning documentation for any errors. If your deed needs to be corrected, then chances are, your estate plan will need to be reviewed and updated as well. This is because estate planning has to do with the distribution of your property when you pass away, and thus makes important references to legal documents such as your property deed. You’ll want to pay close attention to ensure that your estate plan and related legal documents are working in conjunction with one another.
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