A distribution deed is a way to legally transfer real property when the party who is supposed to receive the property cannot be determined from the decedent’s will. In most cases, the distribution of a deceased person’s estate will be done in accordance with the directions contained in the terms of their will.

If the beneficiaries cannot be determined due to unclear will instructions, or if the person never drafted a will (i.e., they died intestate), a party can obtain a distribution deed which would secure the transfer of the real property. In other words, the party obtaining the distribution deed will assume control and ownership of the property.

In general, distribution deeds are typically acquired in association with the deceased individual’s residential home. However, they are also commonly used in relation to other types of property as well, such as a plot of land owned by a deceased person, or a residential condo owned by a deceased individual.

What Does a Distribution Deed Contain?

A distribution deed may contain key information regarding the property in dispute. Specifically, it will usually have information that relates to the deceased person and their intentions as to the distribution of the property. This may include certain details, such as:

  • The facts describing the death of the property owner (i.e., how or why they died);
  • Crucial details relating to the processing or a probate proceeding held in connection to the will;
  • Descriptions that clearly identify the property being distributed;
  • Identifying facts about the party who will assume ownership of the property; and
  • Other relevant information, such as provisions referring to any restrictions, covenants, easements, tax debt, and so on, in regard to the property.

Generally speaking, a distribution deed should also contain clear and unambiguous descriptions of the above information. In fact, the most common reason as to why a person needs to obtain a distribution deed in the first place is due to an unclear provision in the decedent’s will document.

As such, in order to avoid repeating these types of mistakes, it is necessary that the distribution deed clearly identify the property as well as the recipient or recipients to whom the property is being transferred.

For instance, a person should be able to immediately recognize and accurately identify the property being discussed based on the descriptions provided in the terms of the distribution deed. In other words, the relevant parties should not have to refer to an outside document in order to determine which property is being described in the distribution deed.

Are Distribution Deeds Enforceable?

Distribution deeds are almost always enforceable by law since they are typically issued by a court. In order to obtain one, the party who is seeking to gain ownership over the real property simply needs to file a request with the court for a distribution deed. This usually involves them having to pay some amount of court fees.

In addition, it also requires that the court and/or an attorney conducts research that will determine whether or not the filing party is eligible to own the property in question.

Unlike other types of deeds, however, a distribution deed does not always guarantee warranty of title. That is, other kinds of property deeds usually contain an implicit guarantee that the seller has the legal right to transfer ownership (i.e., holds legal title) and that no one else can claim they have any rights over the property.

Thus, to obtain warranty of title for a distribution deed, the party filing for the distribution deed may need to take extra measures, such as researching the property’s history and filing any necessary documents involving the property with their county recorder’s office.

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help with a Distribution Deed?

In some cases, it may be necessary to obtain a distribution deed in order to ensure that real property goes to the entitled beneficiary. Distribution deeds can help real property remain in a person’s family, as opposed to having it revert back to the state. However, sometimes the process for acquiring an enforceable distribution deed can become fairly complicated.

As such, if you have any questions or need help with obtaining or drafting a distribution deed, then you may want to consider contacting an estate lawyer in your area for further assistance. An experienced estate lawyer will be able to provide guidance regarding the necessary legal documents and the court filing process for distribution deeds.

In addition, if you are interested in receiving a warranty of title for your distribution deed, your lawyer can help walk you through the steps required for this type of legal procedure as well. Lastly, a lawyer can also represent you in court in the event that there is a legal conflict over the real property in question.