Massachusetts Land Records

Registry of Deeds Overview… 1

Massachusetts is divided into 21 registry districts with an elected Register of Deeds responsible for each office. Documents related to the ownership of real estate within the district are recorded at the Registry of Deeds.

Recorded documents are assigned a sequential identifying number (known as the book and page number) and are then scanned into the registry’s computer system. The resulting images are available for viewing on and printing from public access terminals at the registry and at your home or office over the Internet. In addition, all registries microfilm all recorded documents and most continue to produce record books containing document images on paper. In most cases, original documents are returned to the land owner. To assist customers in finding relevant documents, registries create a searchable index that contains the names of all parties to a document and the property address.

1 State of Massachusetts. Registry of Deeds and Secretary of State’s Office  (http://www.masslandrecords.com : accessed 29 September 2010).

HOW FAR BACK TO THE REGISTRY RECORDS GO?

Registry records date back to 1731 and all the records are available for public inspection and use at the Registry.  Some very old record books have been “retired” but those records are available on microfilm and online from 1731 to date. Click un-indexed property search for record books.

WHAT OTHER KINDS OF RECORDS WOULD I FIND IN THE REGISTRY?

Besides deeds, mortgages, liens, tax liens, bankruptcies and so on, there are leases, plan maps, a small library and atlases of the Cities and Towns located in the Worcester Registry District.

Declaration of Homestead

A “homestead estate” in Massachusetts can potentially protect the family home from creditors’ claims of up to a maximum of $500,000.00 by protecting the property from execution, attachment and forced sale so long as the owner occupies or intends to occupy the home as his/her principal place of residence There are three types of Homestead:  Regular Homestead, Elderly, and Disabled Person’s Homestead.

MORTGAGE DISCHARGES

When your mortgage is paid off, a mortgage discharge should be recorded with the Registry of Deeds in order to clear your property’s title.

A discharge is a document (usually one page) issued by the lender, with a title such as “Discharge of Mortgage” or “Satisfaction of Mortgage.”

RELEASING ESTATE TAX LIENS

Real property in Massachusetts is subject to a lien for estate taxes upon the death of anyone who has a legal interest in the property.

For a majority of estates, there is no estate tax actually due, but unless a release of estate tax lien form is filed with the Registry of Deeds, there is a claim against the title of property owned by the decedent for ten years following his or her death.

Read  the Entire Deed!

You may learn of your ancestor’s financial associates, that their property was a town ‘landmark’, that their land was later subdivided, or that the Registrar or Notary was another ancestor!

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