A chain of title is a document that provides a sequence of historical transfers of a property title. It traces the history of a property transfer from the current owner back to the original owner and is done in a chronological order. In the event of a dispute over property ownership, a chain of title will help establish the history of a property.
A chain of title is also necessary where documentation of ownership plays a vital role. If needed, a chain of title is reconstructed.
A registry office or civil law notary will maintain the record of title documents. Chains of title may include notations of deeds, certificates of death of a joint tenant, judgments of distribution from estates, judgments of quiet title, foreclosures, and other transfers of title to real property that were recorded.
Before a property is purchased, a title company or abstractors are usually hired to search out the chain title. The report generated will assure a buyer that a title is clear of any claims.
In many real estate transactions, title insurance is issued by insurance companies based on the chain of title when the property is transferred.
How a chain of title is created
It is often built similarly to a family tree where the chain starts with who and what is known and whatever information is readily available. You can start at public tax offices where most title records that trace back several decades are kept. The records are available in digital format, microfilms, and older archiving options.