A deed is a legal instrument used to grant a right. The deed is best known as the method of transferring title to real estate from one person to another.
Historically under common law, for an instrument to be a valid deed it needed five things:
- It must indicate that the instrument itself conveys some privilege or thing to someone. This is indicated by using the word hereby or the phrase by these presents in the sentence indicating the gift.
- The grantor must have the legal ability to grant the thing or privilege.
- The person receiving the privilege or thing must have the legal capacity to receive it.
- A seal must be affixed to it. Most jurisdictions have eliminated this requirement and replaced it with the signature of the grantor. However, for conveyances of real estate, most jurisdictions require that the deed be acknowledged before a notary public or a civil law notary and some may require a witness or witnesses in addition.
- It must be delivered to and accepted by the recipient.
Title is a legal term for an owner's interest in a piece of property. It may also refer to a formal document that serves as evidence of ownership. Conveyance of the document may be required in order to transfer ownership in the property to another person.
In the case of real estate, the legal instrument used to transfer title is the deed.