Abstract of Title (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
A condensed history, taken from public records or documents, of the ownership of a piece of land.
An abstract of title, or title abstract, briefly summarizes the various activities affecting ownership of a parcel of land. When a person or business agrees to purchase real estate, that person or business arranges for an examination of the history of the property's title. This examination is known as a title search. A title search is conducted to determine that the seller of the property in fact owns the property and has a free-and-clear title. A free-and-clear title has no clouds on it, which means that no person or business other than the seller has an interest in, or claim to, the property.
The process of determining the precise ownership of a piece of land by searching an abstract is complex and laborious. Often, the title abstract does not contain every transaction or proceeding that may affect ownership of the land. The search conductor, or abstractor, usually a trained professional, must verify that the abstract is complete by reviewing recent certifications that the abstract is correct, checking for gaps in dates and certification numbers, and ensuring that a proper legal description appears with each entry. The abstractor conducts a credit and finances check on all the names appearing in the abstract to see if any of the parties has filed for
(The entire section is 1949 words.)
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