Deeds are a legal documents which pass interests or rights in property, usually in real estate. They are commonly associated with transferring title to land.  In modern law, bills of sale, rather than deeds, are used to transfer rights to personal property (i.e. automobiles, household goods, etc.).

Deeds vs. Contracts

A deed is signed by one person (or sets of persons) on one side of a transaction whereas a contract involves parties of two or mores sides to a transaction. A deed is a transfer of property whereas a contract is a written agreement of rights and responsibilities between parties.

In Michigan, as with other United States jurisdictions, title to real estate is transferred and proven in a “chain of title” evidenced by deeds.  A deed is generally recorded with the county register- while recordation is not required to convey valid title, recordation of a deed is highly advisable to protect the rights of parties to the conveyance (and is nearly always required by title insurers).

The Right Type of Deeds

There are many types of deeds, with their own language; and each has a different effect on the transfer of property and on the rights of the parties to the transaction.  Consulting with an attorney before drafting, signing, or receiving a deed is highly advisable, especially in the case of married couples or deeds conveying rights to more than one party.  Using the wrong type of deed can have unintended consequences for the unwary.

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