There are a series of steps involved in recording a deed in Maryland. While the overall process is uniform, counties can differ in the technical requirements and costs. A deed to be recorded can be prepared by an attorney licensed in Maryland or by one of the parties named in the deed. It is critical that each step is followed precisely and that the wording of the dead is accurate. Otherwise, an intended deed transfer may not be effective. If improperly done, a deed may not transfer legal title, resulting in complicated and expensive legal issues later on.
First, what is a deed? A deed is a legal document that changes or transfers ownership of real property in Maryland. This is done through a "conveyance." For example, upon the sale of a home, a prior owner would convey new ownership and legal title to the purchaser through a properly written and recorded new deed. Or a property owner may wish to gift a property to someone without any "consideration," or payment. Nevertheless, this too must be properly recorded in a new deed that states that no consideration was paid. A new deed may also be required to show a change of name.
A deed must specify the type of ownership interest that is being conveyed. This is done through important and precise language in a "habendum clause." There are different types of property ownership in Maryland. If not worded correctly, the attempted transfer of legal title may not be effective.
Once you have a properly drafted deed, the next step is recording the deed. Deeds are recorded in the Land Records Department in each Circuit Court where the property is situated. While you should consult specific requirements for each county, what follows is a general description of the process.
- A deed must include a "certificate of preparation," stating that the deed was either prepared by an attorney or by a party.
- A deed must be notarized (signed in person before a notary public).
- A "lien certificate" must be attached, if required. This will show any unpaid taxes or liens on the property which must be paid before property can be deeded or transferred.
- A "State of Maryland Land Instrument Intake Sheet" must be filled out. This Sheet will be used to determine any required transfer or recording taxes. These must be paid before the deed will be recorded. Certain transfers may be exempt from transfer and recording taxes.
- A deed can be recorded after steps 1-4 have been done. A deed, along with the above- referenced documents will be filed by the court Clerk. There are fees to record a deed.
Once the Clerk has recorded the deed, ownership transfers. However, if a deed was recorded with inaccuracies in the wording or transfer language, though recorded, the deed may not transfer legal title. Beware that Court Clerks cannot and will not advise you if your deed is legally sufficient or effective to accomplish your goals.
It is impermissible to include a social security number or driver's licenses in a deed.
Court Clerks make and maintain a full and complete alphabetical general index of every deed, in both the names of each grantor, donor, mortgagor and assignor, and each grantee, donee, mortgagee, or assignee. In addition, the Clerks make a microfilm picture or other copy of every recorded document, which is sent to the State Archivist annually.
Recording a deed in Maryland is a multi-step exacting process. Before recording a deed, take care to examine your intent and be sure to comply with each step of Maryland law. This can avoid errors in ownership and deeds, which can be difficult to correct, and can cause of host of unintended legal problems later on.