A legal description is a geographical description of real estate that identifies its precise location and boundaries for the purpose of a legal transaction, such as a transfer of ownership. A legal description is kept with the deed and filed with the county recorder of deeds or county tax assessor.
So let’s break that down into something that you can actually understand. This means I’m going to have to tell you a little bit about history of land in Missouri. When Missouri was originally surveyed, it was mainly divided into square tracks of land. Those squares were located within sections, townships and ranges within the state of Missouri. This system is very similar to a giant grid. Each piece of property is provided a number (such as Section 7, Township 46 North, Range 5 East) which helps us to establish its location on the grid. It is very common in rural areas to have this type of description denote the location of your property.
In more urban and suburban areas we are more familiar with properties being located within subdivisions. Subdivisions are located within a section, township and range, but are referenced and typically shown on a recorded subdivision plat. Subdivisions typically occur when a developer purchases a tract of land that was part of a section Township and range and divides the land into smaller parcels that are often referred to as lots. A typical reference would be Lot 1 of Smith Subdivision.
The legal description effectively describes where a parcel of land is located and what the dimensions and bearings of the lot are. Legal descriptions are typically found within deeds. It is the tool that is used by title companies and attorneys to transfer the ownership of property. It is a traceable record and helps establish the history of the property.
Legal descriptions are utilized by land surveyors to determine property ownership. Surveyors use the recorded documents to establish and verify where parcels of land are located. If you would like to read a relevant article about this subject please check our blog about why a fence isn’t your property lines.
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