Land is often said to be one of the most important assets in the world. It's also one investment that gets passed down to successive generations, sometimes unknowingly. For those who find out that they’re the rightful owner of a piece of land that goes back multiple generations, plenty of documental proof and red tape is involved in getting a patent. Obtain a good lawyer and follow these legal steps to get the patent on the land your ancestors wanted you to have.
Preparing the Deeds
Obtain all documents that show evidence of your claim to a piece of land through your local county clerk recorder's office. Place into a safety deposit box your warranty deed, the quitclaim deed, an assignment of ownership and proof of ownership through a possible inheritance. Keep them there until ready to obtain your land patent.
Check your warranty deed and see if it’s in a written format called Section, Township and Range or “STRf.” Learn that this format helps determine the proper description of the land in relation to landmarks around the plot. It could have been written years ago and needs to be tracked down before you can officially claim your land patent.
Track down the original warranty deed in the STRf format. Read your current deed and see if it mentions where the original documents were recorded or stored. Go to that particular county building of land records and ask them for the original subdivision plat map. The plat map shows the exact boundaries of your land.
Consult your lawyer about creating a new warranty deed in STRf format if no information is available about where the original deed is.
Request two certified copies of the original plat map and give one to your lawyer. Be sure to obtain the part of the plat map that shows what lawyers called “The Legal”, or the part that gives a complete description of your land for indisputable proof.
Ask the land records staff for two certified copies of the original warranty deed.
Obtaining the Patent
Take your certified copy of the land document in STRf format and present it to the Land Patent department at your local Bureau of Land Management office. Ask them to give you two certified copies of your land patent and a new plat map. This is for keeping things current in case of litigation down the road.
Send these certified copies to the law firm you’re working with. They will compile all your documentation into a proper format that shows definitive ownership. Learn what lawyers call “The Land Patent Sandwich.” This places your quitclaim deed, warranty deed, land patent acceptance and patent itself into a legal stack that seals the deal.
Notarize the documents when the law firm sends them to you in the mail or in person.
- While not legally mandatory, many people with newly-acquired land patents choose to publicly file them in case someone in your family claims they own the land. File the documents in your Clerk and Recorder’s county office or through the legal notices section in your local newspaper. Some people even choose to file all the documents tangibly on a county bulletin board usually located at your county courthouse or sheriff’s office.
- Keep several copies of your Land Patent papers in different and safe locations.
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