Q: Who is the Register?
A: The Register is an elected official whose term is for six (6) years and who makes certain that documents are recorded properly. They also serve as the Assistant Recorder of the Land Court. They are responsible for maintaining all the land records in an accurate and correct form. The present Register of Deeds is Cheryl A. Coakley-Rivera Esq.
Q: What is a Deed?
A: A Deed is a written document by which the buyer obtains record title to real property.
Q: How can I get a copy of my Deed?
A: Should you need a simple copy of your deed, you may go to the Registry’s website and print it from your computer. If you should require a Certified Copy, you are welcome to call us or come into either one of our locations, and we will be happy to provide you a Certified Copy (just like an original).
Q: I want to add/remove names on my deed. Can I do that with the registry of deeds? Is there a form you recommend?
A: The Registry of Deeds is a recording agency. A deed is a legal document that is often drafted by an attorney and not a form to be filled in. We strongly recommend reaching out to a real estate attorney, as they will go over all of your options with you and draft the deed document accordingly. Lastly, the signed, notarized deed arrives at the Registry for recording and we will happily record it, provided it meets our recording requirements.
Please be advised, the transfer of property is a legal transaction and more often than not your home is your largest asset. You really want to make sure it is prepared correctly by a real estate attorney.
Q: My spouse passed away and we are both on the deed together. Do I need to update it?
A: The Registry of Deeds cannot advise you on whether or not to change your deed. You will need to seek the guidance of a real estate attorney to advise you on this subject.
Q: I changed my name. Do I need to update it on my deed?
A: This depends on your particular situation. This is a legal question that should be presented to an attorney for guidance. Should you and your attorney decide that a change in name is necessary, the document should be prepared by the attorney and provide it to the registry for recording. As long as it meets our guidelines, we will be happy to record this document.
Q: May I make out my own deed?
A: Yes, you may, but deeds are legally binding documents that affect the rights of the parties to the deed and also their heirs, successors and assignees. Knowledge of legal principles is very important in the preparation of a deed. The Registry is a recording agency and therefore, cannot make out deeds or answer those questions that pertain to legal matters. We advise you to consult a real estate attorney.
Q: Where is my deed if I inherited the property?
A: The transfer of property can happen in two different departments. The Registry of Deeds, our office, or through a probated estate in the Probate Court. If you inherited your property through a last will and testament then there may not be a deed. The probate and deeds records do not communicate automatically. If you wish to record a deed showing ownership of the property we recommend you get in contact with an attorney who will draft the document for you. When the deed is finished, it can be recorded with our office.
Q: After this deed is recorded, do I own the house?
A: Ownership is a legal interpretation. Your name will appear as the grantee on the deed. However, an attorney or title examiner will be able to determine whether you are the official owner of record of the property.
Q: I paid off my Mortgage, where is my Deed?
A: Congratulations on paying off your mortgage! Contrary to what some banks will tell you, the Registry of Deeds will not automatically send you a deed to your property when you pay the mortgage in full. It is not the same as a car title situation. When you pay off your mortgage in full, the bank will often send us a Satisfaction of Mortgage or Release of Mortgage document to record, basically stating that the outstanding mortgage on your home is paid in full. This document will be recorded by the Registry clerks, releasing the lien.
With regard to your original deed, you should have received it at the time of your closing. However, we would be more than happy to provide you a Certified Copy of your deed upon your request. Feel free to stop in to either one of our offices or even call us and we can send it to you in the mail.
Q: The bank sent me a letter that I paid off my mortgage. What do I do now?
A: Congratulations on paying off your mortgage! The last step is to make sure that your mortgage is “released” in our system. The bank may have sent you an original “Release of Mortgage” or a “Satisfaction of Mortgage” document. It usually takes the bank between 30 to 60 days to prepare this document. This is what will get recorded at our Registry. Sometimes the bank sends the original to the Registry directly for recording. If you believe this may have occurred, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to check for you!
Q: Can you tell me if there is a lien on my property?
A: The Registry cannot confirm or deny that there are any valid liens against your property. In order to determine whether you have a valid lien, you may need to contact an attorney for guidance. We can provide you copies of any document recorded with the Registry. However, we cannot interpret what those documents may mean to you and your situation.
Q: How do I remove a lien from my house?
A: If you have a valid lien against your property, you will need to determine what kind of lien it is first. You will need to contact the entity that put the lien against your property and ask them to provide you the proper document that will remove the lien against your property once it has been satisfied.
Q: How can I put a lien on someone’s property?
A: This is a legal process and we encourage you to reach out to an attorney to assist you in this matter. The Registry is a recording agency and cannot give legal advice or guidance.
Q: How will I know if someone records a lien on my property?
A: The Registry offers a free alert service that monitors any documents, including liens that are recorded in your name. The name of the service is the Consumer Notification System (CNS). You may sign up at no charge and there is no fee for this service. You are required to have a valid email to sign up. You will be contact via this email should any documents be recorded in your name. If you receive a notification, call the registry and we will help you decide if the document was you or if there was a different reason for the alert. Please be aware that you may receive notifications for someone else whom you share the same name. If you suspect fraud, we ask that you contact the authorities immediately. Currently, this instantaneous alert system is our best way to notify you of potential fraud.
Q: Is this document legal?
A: The Registry of Deeds does not determine the legality of a document. Only an attorney and a court can determine whether a document is legally valid.
Q: Do I need a new Homestead?
A: You may or may not. This would depend on your particular situation. In 2011 the law regarding Homestead changed. Prior to the law change, mortgage companies were able to add language to a refinance or new mortgage that made your Homestead null and void. Most people were not made aware of the language and are also not aware that their previously recorded Homestead is invalid. This practice is no longer allowed and we encourage people to review their own situation to decide if they want to update their document. We like to say, “When in doubt, fill it out!”
Q: Can I get sworn in at the Registry?
A: Yes. Public Notaries, Trustees, Board Members, and Justices of the Peace may take their oath at the Registry of Deeds provided the individual received their credentials from the Commonwealth’s authorized agency. Please contact the Registry to schedule the ceremony with one of our Registry clerks in either of our offices in Springfield or Westfield.