How Do I file a Deed in Georgia?

The first step when filing a deed is to have the deed prepared. Although it is not required, we suggest that you have a lawyer prepare the deed.

Where are Deeds Recorded?

O.C.G.A. § 44-2-1 provides that Every deed conveying lands shall be recorded in the office of the clerk of the superior court of the county where the land is located. A deed may be recorded at any time; but a prior unrecorded deed loses its priority over a subsequent recorded deed from the same vendor when the purchaser takes such deed without notice of the existence of the prior deed.

What goes in a deed?

Although no specific form is required (O.C.G.A. § 44-5-33), obviously the deed needs to describe the land being conveyed with sufficient particularity to tell the world which property is being conveyed. It needs to state the name (and capacity) of the person conveying land (known as the Grantee), as well as the name (and capacity) of the person receiving the land (the Grantee). O.C.G.A. § 44-2-14 provides that the deed being filed must “be an original instrument and shall be attested or acknowledged as provided by law.” Generally, it must be signed by the maker and have (at least) one unofficial witness, plus one official witness. See O.C.G.A. § 44-5-30. The notary is the official witness. O.C.G.A. § 44-2-15. If someone is signing for the Grantee, such as an agent under a power of attorney or a trustee, then documents showing that the signor was empowered to sign should also be filed (e.g., the power of attorney or certificate of trust). When the original deed has been lost, O.C.G.A. § 44-5-46 provides that a copy may be established by the superior court of the county where the land is located. An example of a deed found on a Superior Court Clerk’s website is below.

The deed must include the contact information for the person who will receive the original after it is filed. O.C.G.A. § 44-2-14(b).

What is the Fee for filing the Deed?

The current fee for most “intra-family deeds is $25. The check should be made payable to the clerk of superior court for the county where the deed is being filed. If the deed transfers property to a purchaser, a transfer tax is charged at the following rate: $1 per thousand based on the value of the property conveyed. O.C.G.A. § 48-6-1. If the deed secures a debt, then an intangible tax will also be charged at the following rate: $1.50 per each $500.00 or fraction thereof of the face amount. See Rule 560-11-8-.02. These taxes must also be paid to the clerk of court when the deed is filed. O.C.G.A. § 44-5-47 provides that absent an express stipulation to the contrary, the purchaser must pay the costs of the conveyance.

What else is required?

In addition to the deed and payment, you will need a completed form PT-61. This includes map and parcel information so the next property tax bill is sent to the correct person. You can get form PT-61 from the Georgia Superior Court Clerk’s Cooperative Authority.

How far back should a title search go (if you want a title search)?

O.C.G.A. § 44-2-22 provides “A prima-facie case shall be made out in actions respecting title to land upon showing good record title for a period of 40 years, and it shall not be necessary under such circumstances to prove title to the original grant from the state.”

Is Timing Important?

Yes. As recited above, “[a] deed may be recorded at any time; but a prior unrecorded deed loses its priority over a subsequent recorded deed from the same vendor when the purchaser takes such deed without notice of the existence of the prior deed.” O.C.G.A. § 44-2-1. Further, unrecorded voluntary deeds or conveyances of land made by any person are be void as against subsequent bona fide purchasers for value without notice of such voluntary deed or conveyance. O.C.G.A. § 44-2-3. If you are engaged in Medicaid planning, the look-back period does not begin running until the deed is filed.

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