Definition of Terms

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§1031 Exchange Services

A 1031 Like-Kind Exchange is a legal way to sell one or more properties in direct exchange for another property and delaying capital gains on the transaction. 1031 refers to the IRS code which allows owners of business and investment property to defer payment of capital gains taxes by reinvesting all proceeds from the sale of a current owned property (relinquished property) into a new like-kind property (replacement property.)

Abstract of Title

A condensed history of the title to land, consisting of a synopsis or summary of the material of operative portion of all conveyances of whatever kind or nature, which in any manner affect said land, or any estate or interest therein, together with a statement of all liens, charges, or liabilities to which the same may be subject, as shown by public records in the offices of the county courthouse.


One who searches land records in the offices of the county courthouse and makes a summary of the material parts of every recorded instrument and other matters, as shown by the public records, affecting the title to a particular land.


The act by which a person who has signed an instrument goes before an authorized officer,  such as a Notary Public, and vows that he executed the instrument, as his voluntary act and deed.


Something added or to be added.


Any person appointed by the court to administer an intestate estate.


A person making an affidavit. He may also be known as a deponent.


A written or printed declaration or statement of facts, made voluntarily, and confirmed by the oath or affirmation of the party making it, taken before an officer having authority to administer such oath. The purpose of the affidavit is to establish or prove a fact.


Allowances that a court orders a party to pay a spouse for maintenance while they are separated, or after they are divorced.


Auxiliary; subordinate.  The term “ancillary letters”  is used to apply to letters testamentary or letters of administration that are taken out in a state other than that of the decedent’s domicile, but in which he had assets or debts. Those letters are subordinate or supplementary to the letters issued in the decedent’s domicile. The term ancillary also applies to court proceedings that are auxiliary to the main action.

Ante-nuptial Agreement

Made or done before a marriage, wherein, as a rule, the parties agree as to disposition of property after death and other matters related to the marital relationship.


A valuation set upon property under judicial or legislative authority.


To bear witness to; to affirm to be true or genuine.

Attorney in Fact

One who is appointed by another, with the authority to act for him in matters specified in the terms of the appointment. An attorney at law may be an attorney in fact, but an attorney in fact is not necessarily an attorney at law.

Auditor’s Plat

A plat ordered by the auditor because the property owners cannot agree. It is usually made pursuant to request of owners for the purpose of simplifying descriptions and making boundaries clear.


The recipient of funds, property, or other benefits from an insurance policy, will or other settlement.


A gift by will of personal property; a legacy.

Blue Book

Handbook of abstracting standards of Iowa Land Title Association. A complete compilation of forms, approved by the Title Standards Committee, as a guide in construction of an abstract.

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A document certifying to a fact, qualification or promise. A written assurance or official representation that some act has or has not been done.


To testify in writing; to make known or establish a fact.

Child Support

To provide a child a means of livelihood; to furnish with funds or means for maintenance; usually directed by the court in divorce and dissolution of marriage decrees.


A person making a claim.

Closing Services

The process of completing a real estate transaction during which the seller delivers title to the buyer in exchange for payment of the purchase price is referred to as the closing or settlement.

Once a purchase contract is entered into, it is submitted to the closing agent who processes and finalizes the transaction by executing the terms of the contract. This process includes such items as paying off liens against the property, ordering inspections, doing a complete search of the legal records pertaining to the real estate, and finally consummating the transaction at the settlement or closing date.

Tri-State Title LLC takes great pride in our ability to bring buyer and seller together and complete real estate transactions in an efficient and accurate manner. Whether we are in a residential, commercial, or agricultural setting, we have the necessary experience and staff to solve and resolve all issues relating to the satisfactory conclusion of a closing.


(Clearance for Inheritance Tax Purposes) - A simplified method for obtaining inheritance tax clearance commonly known as short form administration.


A supplement to a will that changes its provisions.  The same procedures and formalities that are necessary to execute a will properly must be observed when making a codicil.


(In Real Property Law) The process by which property of a private owner is taken for public use, without his consent, but upon the award and payment of just compensation, being in the nature of a forced sale.


A person appointed by the court to have the custody and control of the property of a ward under the provisions of the code of Iowa.


Proceedings in probate relating to a ward and conservator.


An agreement between two or more parties whereby each promises to do or refrain from doing some act. For example, an agreement for the conveyance of real estate between two or more persons wherein a down payment is made, and the remainder of the purchase price is paid in specified installments, with a deed issued on completion of payment.

Controlled Access

Controls entries to and from state highways.


To pass or transmit the title to property from one to another; to transfer property or the title to property by deed or contract under seal.

Corporate Seal

An engraved symbol used by a corporation to make an impression upon its business papers. The seal usually recites the name of the corporation and state of incorporation.

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A deceased person.


An authoritative order having the force of law. The judgment of a court of equity, probate or divorce.

Deed of Trust

An instrument in use in some of the states and the District of Columbia by which legal title to real estate is conveyed to a third party (to be held in trust) for a lender until the debt secured by the instrument is paid. It is in effect, a mortgage with three parties, the borrower, the lender and the trustee.


  • Warranty Deed - A deed under which the grantor (seller) agrees that he will forever guarantee title to the premises conveyed. It assures that he is the true owner and has the right to pass title. Most important, the grantor guarantees the title to be merchantable.
  • Joint Tenancy - An estate held by two or more persons at the same time, under the same title or source of ownership, in which each has the same degree of interest and the same right of possession. Upon death of one of the joint tenants, his interest automatically passes to the surviving joint tenant, or tenants.
  • Tenants in Common -   Two or more persons hold an estate by separate and distinct titles, with unity of possession only. Upon the death of one of the tenants in common, his interest passes to his heirs, pursuant to his will, and not to the other tenants in common.
  • Quit Claim Deed - A deed which merely releases only whatever interest the grantor has in the property at the time and nothing further and does not profess that such title is valid nor contains any warranty or covenants for title.
  • Tax Deed - The conveyance given upon a sale of lands made for non-payment of taxes; the deed whereby the county treasurer undertakes to convey the title of the property to the purchaser as part of tax sale proceedings.
  • Sheriff’s Deed - The conveyance given upon sale of lands conducted by a sheriff, or sheriff’s deputy, usually as part of the execution of a judgment.
  • Court Officer Deed - Conveyance of real estate by a fiduciary, usually an executor or administrator of an estate, or the conservator of the property of a ward.
  • Corporate Deed - A conveyance of real estate by a corporation.
  • Deed (without warranty) - A conveyance of the interest of the grantor only. It is in many respects similar to a quit claim deed.
  • Special Warranty Deed - In such a deed the grantor covenants for himself and his heirs to “warrant and forever defend” the title to the real estate against all persons claim “by, through, or under” the grantor or his heirs. It is not a general warranty against the claim of all persons.


By the original definition it was a gift of real property but by legislation it is now defined as a gift of real or personal property by the last will and testament of the testator.


The person to whom lands or other real property are devised or given by will.


A person against whom an action is brought.


Term used to describe the right to disclaim in whole or in part the succession in any property, real or personal, in an estate.

Disclaimer Agreement

In abstracting, denial of a claim of interest in real estate.

Dismissal With Prejudice

Bars the right to bring or maintain an action on the same claim or cause.

Dismissal Without Prejudice

Dismissal with right of claimant reserved to sue again on same cause of action.

Dissolution of Marriage

New basis for termination of marriage is popularly known as no-fault divorce and the name is changed from divorce to dissolution of marriage.


An heir or beneficiary entitled to share in the distribution of an estate.

District Court

The court of original jurisdiction in the state of Iowa including several divisions - magistrate, criminal, civil, probate, juvenile. Court for the trial of causes of action at law and in equity.


The dissolution of marriage.


One’s legal residence.


The part or interest of a decedent’s real estate allotted by law to (the) surviving spouse for his or her lifetime.


A right afforded a person to make limited use of another’s real property, as the right of way.


Lien or claim upon property. A legal right or interest in favor of a person other than owner.


T o place one’s signature on a contract or other instrument to indicate approval of its contents or terms.


Equal and impartial justice between two persons whose rights or claims are in conflict.


A written agreement, such as a deed or bond, put into the custody of a third party and not in effect until certain conditions are fulfilled by the grantee.


The real and personal property of a decedent, a ward, or a trust.

Estate Tax

A federal or state excise tax, usually levied on a graduated basis, on the right to transfer property from the dead to the living. It included transfers taking effect at death and certain other transfers that are defined by the law as having been made in “contemplation of death”.


A person who is appointed by a testator to execute or carry out his will.

Extension Agreement

A granting of extra time, especially to allow payment of a debt or compliance with a legal formality. An agreement between a debtor and his creditors.

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Fee simple

An estate in land of which the inheritor has unqualified ownership and power of disposition.


A person holding a position  and acting in the capacity of trust and special confidence. Includes personal representative, executor, administrator, guardian, conservator and trustee.

Financing Statement

A notice to the public that a creditor has a security interest in certain property of the debtor.


A process by which mortgaged property is sold to obtain satisfaction of the debt secured by the mortgage from the proceeds of sale either pursuant to a decree of court or the power of sale contained in the mortgage.

Foreign Will

Will probate in another state which is offered for probate in Iowa.


Procedure authorized by statute or by agreement for surrendering of the rights of a contract purchaser and restoring the legal title to the real estate in the contract seller.

Full Age

The state of legal majority attained through arriving at the age of eighteen years or through having married, even though such marriage is terminated by divorce.


(Real Estate) The person to whom real property is conveyed by deed.


(Real Estate) The person who conveys his real property to another by deed.


A person, who is legally responsible for the care and management of a person  who is considered to be incompetent to manage his own affairs.


The office, duty, or authority of guardian.


Any person, except the surviving spouse, who is entitled to property of a decedent under the statutes of intestate succession.


Includes any person who has been adjudicated by a court to be incapable of managing his property, or caring for his own person, or both.


The act or process of forming or creating a corporation.


A deed or contract executed between two or more parties.

Inheritance Tax

A tax on inherited property.


A formal or legal document in writing, such as a contract, deed, will, bond or lease.


A list or schedule of property, containing a designation or description of each specific article, with their estimated or actual values. The term is particularly applied to such a list made by an executor or administrator.


Without making a will. The word is often used to designate the person himself, who has died without making a will.


Usually refers to descendants and is sometimes said to be equivalent to “heirs of the body”. When used in wills, it is subject to the rule of construction that the intention of the testator, as ascertained from the entire will, is to have effect rather than the technical meaning of the language used by him.

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The determination, by a court of competent jurisdiction, of the rights of the parties in an action or proceeding.


A certification on an affidavit declaring when and before whom it was sworn.


A contract granting use or occupation of land of holdings during a specified period in exchange for rent.


A person entitled to personal property under a will.

Letters Testamentary

The formal instrument or authority and appointment given to an executor by the proper court, empowering him to enter upon the discharge of his office as executor. It corresponds to letters of administration granted to an administrator.


To impose or collect. (a tax for example)


A claim which a creditor has upon the property of a debtor as security for some debt or charge.

Life Estate

An interest in property, real or personal, that lasts only for the duration of the holder’s life.

Lis Pendens

A suit pending regarding land, which gives notice that the property described is involved in a law suit.


A civil officer with power to administer and enforce law. In Iowa it usually refers to the presiding officer in Magistrates’ Court.

Marginal Release

A written or printed notation on the margin of an instrument, releasing the lien of a mortgage from real estate usually made when indebtedness is paid.

Mechanics Lien

The statutory lien for persons who have performed labor or furnished material for the permanent improvement of real property. The lien attaches to the land as well as the building and is intended to secure for them a priority of payment.


Suitable for buying and selling.

Metes and Bounds

Metes = measures; Bounds = boundaries. In land description, when the lengths of the sides and the bearings are given, the tract is said to be described in “metes and bounds”.


A conditional conveyance. A mortgage is given by a borrower or debtor (mortgagor) on specific real estate to secure the payment of a debt, with a provision that the conveyance will become void on the payment of the debt by the date named.

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An advice, or written warning, in more or less formal shape, intended to inform a person of some proceedings in which his interests are involved, or informing him of some fact which it is his right to know and the duty of the notifying party to communicate.

Nunc Pro Tunc

Now for then. A phrase applied to acts allowed to be done after the time when they should be done, with a retroactive effect.


Any direction or command delivered by a court and entered into the court record, but not included in the final judgment or verdict.


A statute or regulation, especially as enacted by a city government.

Partition Action

A judicial process of division in kind or by sale of real or personal property among co-owners.


The instrument by which a state or government grants public lands to an individual.

Personal Property

A right or interest, protected by law, in something that is not land or anything permanently attached to land.


A formal written application requesting a court for a specific judicial action.


The party that institutes a suit in court.


A map, or a graphic representation on paper, of a piece of land, subdivided into smaller parcels or lots, used in land description, or a representation of a survey by a licensed surveyor of a specific area of real estate.

Power of Attorney

An instrument authorizing another to act as one’s agent.

Quiet Title

A proceeding to establish the plaintiff’s title to land by bringing into court all adverse claimants and compelling them either to establish their claim or to be prohibited from asserting it.

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Real Property

The land, appurtenances, and any man-made improvement attached to it.


A person appointed by the court to try such questions and actions as may be referred to them and act as arbitrators in certain cases such as referee for partition of real estate or referee in bankruptcy.


To release from lien debt or obligation.

  • Marginal- written or printed in the margin of instrument.
  • Partial- affecting only specific part of land involved.

Residuary Interest

A right, claim or legal share in the residue (that part remaining after all claims, debts, and bequests are satisfied) of an estate.


The action of a legislative body, such as city council or board of supervisors.

Resolution of Necessity

A decision or intention made by a legislative body, town council, etc., usually setting out proposed assessments for city improvements.


The act of a sheriff or deputy sheriff in delivering back to the court a writ, notice, or other paper which he was required to serve or execute, with a brief account of his doings under the mandate, the time and mode of service or execution, or his failure to accomplish it as the case may be. Also the endorsement made by the officer upon the writ or other paper, stating what he has done under it, the time and mode of service, etc.

Scavenger Sale

Property is being sold for third time by treasurer of county, with no buyer in previous two years. If no bid is received equal to the unpaid taxes, interest and penalty, the county automatically becomes the buyer.


Actual possession of land. (A covenant in a warranty deed that the seller “is seized” of the premises in fee simple and has good right to convey, means at the time of execution and delivery of the deed, he is in lawful possession of the fee estate in the property, and has lawful title.)


To determine the boundaries, the area, or the elevations of land or structures on the earth’s surface by means of measuring angles and distances, using the technology of geometry and trigonometry.

Suspended Tax

Taxes, the collection of which have been deferred by the Board of Supervisors or other taxing authority.

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Tax Lien

A charge upon the lands of a person, for non-payment of taxes of all kinds, by judgment of court or sale of the land (i.e., real estate, inheritance or sales tax).


Having made a legally valid will before death.


One who has made a legally valid will before death.

Title Commitment

A commitment on the part of the insurer, once a title search has been conducted, to provide the proposed insured with a title insurance policy upon closing.

Title Guaranty (Iowa)

The Iowa legislature created Title Guaranty to provide guarantees of Iowa real property titles, facilitate mortgage lenders’ participation in the secondary market and to help assure the integrity of Iowa’s land-title system. As a division of the Iowa Finance Authority, Title Guaranty is totally self-supporting. All revenue in excess of operation expenses goes toward home ownership programs for first-time homebuyers. Title Guaranty’s profits are re-invested in the state of Iowa.

Title Insurance

A title insurance policy insures that, as a new owner, your title to the property is free and clear of liens and that you have clear title from the sellers. In addition, a title insurance policy insures that you will stand protected from loss or damage resulting from any title defects and will reveal to you items such as easements, reservations, and protective covenants which might have an effect on your use of the property. Some possible defects include from forged documents, mistakes in public records, fraud, incorrect property descriptions, and access to the property.

Tri-State Title LLC will provide a thorough search of the public records to reveal possible liens, claims, defects, or encumbrances against the property. There are two primary types of title insurance policies:

  • Owner's Policy - The Owner's Policy is issued to the new owner, insuring that the title to the property they are purchasing is delivered to them free and clear of liens and subject only to easements, restrictions, reservations, and protective covenants as disclosed in the policy.
  • Lender's Policy - The Lender's Policy is issued when there is a mortgage lien to be issued on the property. It insures that the lien of the lender to be insured is a first lien on the property.

Title Plant / Tract Index

A Tract Index is an Index in which the instruments or record in the County Recorder's Office are indexed according to the tract. That is, a Tract Index has a separate page, or part of a page, on which to index every town lot and every 40 acre tract in the County and by turning to the appropriate page, the Abstracter will find there listed a reference to every instrument on the records of the County Recorder affecting the lot or tract under examination.


  • Civil - A sub-division of a county having the status of a unit of local government with varying governmental powers. In Iowa the boundaries are set by the Board of Supervisors in each county. Identified by name, such as Lime Creek Township.
  • Congressional - A public land surveying unit of 36 sections or 36 square miles - for example Township 76 North, Range 6 West.

Trade Name

The name under which a business firm operates.


An official copy of certain proceedings in a court.


A legal title to property held by one party (the trustee) for the benefit of another party (the beneficiary).


The person or persons appointed by the court to administer a trust.

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To put an end to; as to vacate a street.


One who enters into a contract of sale and agrees to purchase the real property of another.


One who enters into a contract of sale and agrees to sell his real property to another.


To affirm formally or under oath.


An assurance by the seller or property that the goods or property are as represented or will be as promised.


A legal declaration of how a person wishes his possessions to be disposed of after his death. The document containing this declaration.

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