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A description of a piece of real property that is acceptable by the courts of the state where the property is located for use in real property conveyance documents. The description is usually complete enough so that an independent surveyor can locate and identify that specific parcel of land. Oral testimony is not admissible as a way of describing the property more fully, except in certain cases involving fraud or mistake. Such descriptions are usually based on the field notes of a surveyor or civil engineer. Methods of description are lot, block and subdivision; government survey; and metes and bounds.
A legal description is required on all deeds, assignments of leases, and mortgages and is in most contracts for deed. Street addresses, tax-bill descriptions, and general descriptions (the Smith farm) are generally inadequate for use in recorded title documents because such identifying characteristics may not endure indefinitely. Use of such temporary descriptions could lead to obvious difficulties for someone searching the chain of title or trying to locate the property in the distant future. In gen¬eral, a legal description should be used in any instrument that is to be recorded. If the description is incorrect, then the document may be improperly indexed and thus may not be sufficient constructive notice to a third person under recording laws.
The general rules in case of conflicts in legal descriptions are: natural or artificial monuments prevail over courses and distances, natural monuments prevail over artificial monuments, courses govern over distances, and stated acreage or area is the least reliable method of describing a parcel.
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