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An Overview of Courthouse Records

Peter M. Neidhardt, Nuts and Bolts of Mineral Title Examination (2012)


In order to more fully understand the significance of courthouse records, a brief look at the underlying concept of title and how it operates within the context of real property may be helpful. Title, to most, is synonymous with the idea of ownership. A person or entity can own a variety of things including automobiles, airplanes, real property, and, of course, mineral rights. The key to perfecting or proving ownership is title, which by one definition is the “[l]egal evidence of a person's ownership rights in property . . . .”1 In the case of real property, this evidence exists in the form of recorded instruments such as deeds and probate documents, which are components of what is known as record title.

Record title is used to prove ownership and is derived from instruments filed in the public record, which are found in real estate records at the county level.2 The central idea is that the deed received by the purchaser of real estate is recorded in the county records and acts as “notice” to all subsequent would-be purchasers. Simply stated, the recording of the deed, which is the mechanism by which real property is conveyed, is a form of protection against the same property being sold twice. To record a deed or other instrument affecting real estate, the original deed is taken to the county in which the property is located; a c