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Real Estate Deed Interpretation

A deed is a legal document which conveys an interest in real estate. The essential elements of a deed are (1) names of the parties, (2) words of grant, (3) description of the real estate, (4) execution and delivery by the grantor (the person conveying the interest in the real estate) and (5) acceptance by the grantee. Kindred v. City of Smithville, 292 S.W.3d 420, 426-27 (Mo. Ct. App. 2009). Therefore, these requirements exists for all deeds, including, without limitation, general warranty deeds, quitclaim deeds, special warranty deeds and even easement deeds. Under Section 442.130, RSMo, “[a]ll deeds or other conveyances of lands, or of any estate or interest therein, shall be subscribed by the party granting the same, or by his lawful agent, and shall be acknowledge or proved.”

Despite the best intentions and even the best planning, deed disputes happen. If litigation arises, it will ultimately be for the Court decide the effect and meaning of a particular deed. The “intention of the parties” is paramount when interpreting deeds. Gardner v. Maffitt, 74 S.W.2d 604, 607 (Mo. 1934). Intention is gleaned from the terms of the deed in light of the circumstances of the parties. Id. Courts are leery to void deeds because that invokes the “most extraordinary power of equity.” Miller v. Minstermann, 266 S.W.2d 672, 679 (Mo. 1954). A party seeking cancellation of a deed most prove so by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence. Blackburn v. Spence, 384 S.W.2d 535, 539 (Mo. 1964).

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