Differentiating Between a Tax Legal Description and a Full Legal Description: Real Estate Radio Hour Legal Minute, February 8, 2014

Continuing on this month’s Legal Minute theme of “things people do in real estate transactions when an attorney isn’t involved”, this week I discuss another common mistake:  mistaking the abbreviated legal description listed on a County’s property tax information website for a full legal description which can be used in an instrument of conveyance.  You can listen to the clip here.

A legal description consists of the written words which delineate a specific piece of real property. In the written transfer of real property, it is universally required that the instrument of conveyance (deed) include a written description of the property.

In Minnesota, most County property tax records websites will provide what’s known as the “tax legal description.”  For lengthy metes and bounds legal descriptions, the “tax legal” is an abbreviated version of the legal description.  It is important to know that while a tax legal could be used along with a street address or parcel identification number on a purchase agreement, at closing, the instrument of conveyance should always contain the full legal description of the subject property, which can be obtained through the County recording office or a title company.

As always, archived segments are available here.