Where Are Deeds Filed in Kansas?
Each of Kansas’ 105 counties has an elected register of deeds who maintains and preserves the county’s public land records.1 A Kansas deed is filed with the register of deeds for the county where the real estate is located.2 When receiving a deed, the register of deeds records and indexes the deed by date, party names, type of document, volume-and-page number, and property description.3
What Is the Effect of Recording a Kansas Deed?
A deed recorded with the register of deeds provides constructive notice of the conveyance to later purchasers, creditors, and others who have an interest in the property or transfer.4 An unrecorded deed is valid only between the parties to the deed and third parties with actual notice of the transfer.5
Does Kansas Allow Electronic Recording?
Kansas adopted the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act (URPERA) in 2007.6 The URPERA gives register-of-deeds offices power to accept deeds for recording in electronic format. A statutorily compliant electronic deed qualifies as an original written deed. An electronic signature on an electronic deed meets the requirement for Kansas deeds to include the current property owner’s signature.7
Electronic recording is optional, and not all Kansas counties accept electronically filed deeds. A register of deeds that has adopted electronic recording must still accept deeds filed in paper format.8
What Is the Cost to File a Kansas Deed?
Kansas register-of-deeds offices charge $21.00 to record a deed’s first page and $17.00 each for other pages.9 The cost includes the legal recording fee and amounts planned to go to the register of deeds technology fund.10 A register of deeds must receive the recording fee before recording a deed in the county land records.11
Does Kansas Charge a Transfer Tax for Real Estate Transfers?
No. Kansas is one of a few states with no transfer tax or deed tax on real estate transfers. The Kansas State Legislature also ended the state’s mortgage registration tax in 2019.12 Before the mortgage registration tax ended, the register of deeds collected up to 0.26% of the amount of a mortgage, not counting interest, before recording a mortgage document.
Does Kansas Require Any Other Forms When Recording a Deed?
Yes. The current owner, new owner, or authorized agent must submit to the register of deeds a completed Real Estate Sales Validation Questionnaire (RESVQ).13 The questionnaire includes the transaction’s details, such as the property location, the buyer’s name and address, the sale price and date, and financing.14 The register of deeds preserves the questionnaire for five years but does not record the document with the deed.
The person requesting recording should provide the RESVQ to the register of deeds immediately after filing the deed. Filing in the wrong order can cause errors or delay processing.
Do All Kansas Deeds Require a Real Estate Sales Validation Questionnaire?
Deeds for certain types of transfers do not require an RESVQ.15 An exempt deed must name the reason for the exemption with a phrase like this one:
Pursuant to K.S.A 79-1437, a Real Estate Sales Validation Questionnaire is not required due to Exemption No. _____ .
The exemptions that apply under the law are as follows:16
- deeds recorded before July 1, 1991;
- deeds made solely to secure or release security for a debt or other obligation;
- deeds that confirm, correct, change, or add to a previously recorded deed without further payment;
- deeds giving or donating the named real estate;
- deeds to cemetery lots;
- leases and transfers of severed mineral interests;
- deeds to or from trusts without payment;
- deeds resulting from a divorce settlement in which one party transfers real estate ownership to the other;
- deeds made solely to create a joint tenancy or tenancy in common;
- sheriff’s deeds;
- deeds that have been in escrow for longer than five years;
- quitclaim deeds recorded to clear title problems;
- transfers to provide right-of-way or due to eminent domain;
- deeds made by a guardian, executor, administrator, conservator, or trustee of an estate due to a court order;
- deeds transferring title due to repossession; and
- deeds with no further payment recorded to release an equitable lien on a previously recorded affidavit of equitable interest.
What Types of Deeds Are Recognized in Kansas?
Written deeds are the primary means of transferring ownership of Kansas real estate.17 Kansas recognizes three types of deeds for basic transfers from a current owner (the grantor) to a new owner (the grantee). Each form includes a different level of guarantee—or warranty of title—to confirm the quality of the transferred property rights.
- General warranty deeds. A Kansas general warranty deed form—usually just called a warranty deed—provides complete warranty of title.18 The current owner guarantees the deed conveys good, clear title with no title defects like undisclosed liens or third-party claims on the property. The new owner can file a breach-of-warranty lawsuit against the current owner if a title defect causes the new owner financial loss.19 A warranty deed’s warranty places all risk of title defects on the current owner. It covers any undisclosed defects existing on the date of the deed—even defects that occurred before the current owner took title.
- Limited warranty deeds. A Kansas limited warranty deed form—sometimes called a special warranty deed—splits the risk of unknown title defects between the current owner and new owner.20 The current owner offers a guarantee similar to a general warranty deed. The difference is that a limited warranty deed’s warranty applies only to title defects that arose while the current owner owned the property. The new owner bears the risk of defects that existed before the current owner took title.
- Quitclaim deeds. A Kansas quitclaim deed form transfers whatever right the current owner holds—if any—with no warranty of title.21 The person signing the deed does not promise that the title is clear or that the signer owns a valid interest in the real estate. The new owner receives the title the signer can lawfully transfer and bears all risk of title defects. The person taking title under a quitclaim deed cannot sue for breach of warranty if the deed transfers a defective title.
Either party to a Kansas deed—or another interested party such as a lender—can lower risk from title defects by buying title insurance. A title insurance policy covers financial loss resulting from unknown liens or mortgages and similar issues that lower the marketability or value of the property’s title.22 The insurance company accepts a lump-sum premium and in return bears the financial risk of any unknown title problems that exist when the policy is issued.
What Types of Estate Planning Deeds Does Kansas Recognize?
Kansas law recognizes several specialized deed forms used for specific goals or settings. The following Kansas deeds come up in estate planning and personal finance:
- Transfer-on-death deed. A Kansas transfer-on-death deed form titles real estate so that ownership automatically belongs to a named beneficiary when the owner dies.23 Kansas transfer-on-death deeds—or TOD deeds—allow the transfer of real estate upon the owner’s death without probate.24 A TOD deed does not limit or otherwise affect the owner’s rights to the property during life.25
- Life estate deed. A Kansas life estate deed form transfers real estate to a life tenant for the rest of his or her life and then to another person—the remainderman—when the life tenant dies.26 Life estate deeds are similar to TOD deeds but have one major difference. The future property rights a life estate deed creates vest in the remainderman during the life tenant’s life. The life tenant’s rights to the property—including the right to sell it—are limited by the vested future interest. A TOD deed, on the other hand, does not affect the owner’s property rights until the owner’s death.
- Personal representative deed. A personal representative deed transfers real estate from a deceased owner’s estate to a buyer or other rightful owner.27 A court-appointed representative of the estate signs a personal representative deed in connection with court-supervised probate proceedings.
Kansas real estate laws also require a certain deed form to transfer property rights relating to wind and solar energy production.28 Specific wind-and-solar-energy deeds are required to transfer these rights under a lease or easement.
How Can Multiple Owners Hold Title to Kansas Real Estate?
Like other states, Kansas gives co-owners several options to hold title to real estate jointly. A deed that transfers Kansas real estate to more than one owner should specify which of the following co-ownership forms the new owners will use:
- Tenancy in common. Co-owners who hold title as tenants in common each have distinct fractional interests in the real estate. Tenants in common, or co-tenants, can transfer their interests during life or by will without affecting the other owner’s interest. Joint owners who receive Kansas real estate under a deed that does not specify an ownership form are considered tenants in common.29 The only exception is that a deed that transfers Kansas real estate to two or more trustees in their trustee capacity creates a joint tenancy unless the deed clearly states otherwise.30
- Joint tenancy. Joint tenants share complete title to co-owned real estate rather than separate fractional interests. Joint tenancy’s key feature is the right of survivorship that transfers a deceased co-owner’s property rights to the surviving co-owner automatically. The surviving joint tenant holds sole title to the property. Joint tenancy allows real estate to bypass probate and can be useful in estate planning. A deed’s granting clause must clearly state the intent to create a joint tenancy if new co-owners will be joint tenants.31
- Tenancy by the entirety. Kansas law does not recognize tenancy by the entirety. In states that do honor it, tenancy by the entirety is like joint tenancy but can only be used for joint ownership by married spouses. A Kansas deed that transfers real estate to spouses as husband and wife or in a similar way creates a tenancy in common unless it clearly creates a joint tenancy.32
- Ownership in trust. Co-owners of Kansas real estate can opt to hold title through a living trust rather than as individuals.33 The co-owners become beneficiaries of the trust, and one or both co-owners may serve as trustee.34
What Does the Law Say about Spousal Ownership of Real Estate in Kansas?
Kansas real estate and probate law includes special rules affecting real estate ownership by married persons. A married property owner should consider the following rules when titling or transferring real estate or when creating an estate plan.
Kansas Homestead Rights
A Kansas homestead is a residence that the owner’s family lives in—along with up to 160 acres of farmland or one acre in an incorporated town or city.35 The Kansas Constitution protects homesteads from being claimed by most creditors to cover debt and requires both spouses’ consent to transfer a homestead owned by a married person. Both spouses must consent even if the property’s title is in only one spouse’s name.
Spousal Rights in Non-Homestead Kansas Real Estate
A longstanding Kansas law gives a surviving spouse half of the rights to real estate that the deceased spouse owned during the marriage.36 The rights do not apply if the surviving spouse consented to a property’s transfer. The law can have a wide reach and can cause chain-of-title problems, so it is good for both spouses to consent to transfers of homestead and non-homestead Kansas real estate.
Spousal Intestate Share
Kansas law gives a surviving spouse strong inheritance rights in a deceased spouse’s property. A surviving spouse of a deceased person who leaves no will receives the entire estate if the deceased spouse has no surviving children or grandchildren.37 Otherwise, without a will, the surviving spouse’s share is one half of the estate.
Spousal Elective Share
A surviving spouse of a Kansan who dies with a will has a right to an elective share in the deceased spouse’s estate.38 The surviving spouse can choose whether to receive the spousal elective share in place of the share provided under the deceased spouse’s will.
A surviving spouse’s elective share is a percentage of the deceased spouse’s larger estate, including property mentioned in the will and some other assets.39 The elective share ranges from 3–50 percent depending on how long the marriage lasted.40 The surviving spouse can claim an extra amount of up to $50,000 if his or her rights would be worth less than $50,000.41 The elective share also includes a choice to claim life estate rights in the family homestead or a homestead allowance of $50,000.42
What Are the Requirements for Kansas Deeds to and from Entities?
Kansas has further requirements when a party to a deed is an entity like a business rather than a natural person—an actual human being.
A trust that owns Kansas real estate must have a written trust instrument that has been signed by the creator of the trust, called the settlor, and signed before witnesses in the same way as a deed.44 A trust can hold title to Kansas real estate in the trust’s name or in the trustee’s name as trustee.45 A trustee must ensure that trust-owned real estate is titled so that the deed and other records show the trust’s ownership.46
Deeds to Trusts
A deed that transfers Kansas real estate to a trust does not need to list the trust’s beneficiaries in the deed, as in some areas. A trustee can—but is not required to—record a certification of trust providing general information about the trust.47 A certification of trust recorded with the register of deeds provides constructive notice of the trust to interested parties.48
Deeds from Trusts
A trustee signs a deed transferring trust-owned real estate for the trust.49 The deed must clearly show that the trustee is legally signing as a trustee. Deeds that transfer Kansas real estate from a trust often state that the new owner recognizes that the trustee is acting as trustee and that the new owner cannot sue the trustee personally for breach of warranty.
Deeds to Corporations
Kansas law clearly states that Kansas corporations can purchase, own, and sell real estate.50 A deed that transfers Kansas real estate to a corporation should identify the corporation by its official name.51
Deeds from Kansas Corporations
A corporation’s authorized officer signs a deed that transfers real estate owned by a corporation.52 A corporation may instead sign a deed through an agent who acts under a power-of-attorney document signed by the corporation.53
Incorporated religious and charitable organizations and benevolent associations sign Kansas deeds through their appointed trustees or managers.54
Deeds to and from Kansas LLCs
A Kansas limited liability company (LLC) can legally own Kansas real estate unless it is limited by its operating agreement.55 LLCs are managed by their members or managers (if a company is manager-managed).56 A member or manager usually signs a deed for an LLC—noting the signer’s role within the deed. Members and managers may assign authority to an agent, officer, or employee.57 LLCs may sign a power of attorney that allows an agent or attorney to act for the company.58
Deeds to and from Kansas Partnerships
A partnership may own Kansas real estate titled in the partnership’s name or in the name of a partner acting as partner.59 A partner can legally act on behalf of a partnership, including by signing a deed created during the partnership’s business.60 If partnership property is titled in a single partner’s name, that partner must sign a deed transferring the property.61 A partnership may sign a statement of partnership authority that, when recorded with the register of deeds, makes information available about a partner’s authority (or lack of authority) to act for the partnership in certain matters.
Kansas recognizes general partnerships and limited partnerships (LPs). LPs have general partners involved in running the business and limited partners. Limited partners have a financial stake in the business but do not participate in management.62 An LP’s general partners have the same authority as partners in a general partnership and usually sign deeds on the LP’s behalf.63
- Kan. Stat. § 19-1201; Kan. Stat. § 19-1204.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-2221.
- Kan. Stat. § 19-1205.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-2222.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-2223.
- Kan. Stat. §§ 58-4401, et seq.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-4403.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-4404(4).
- Kan. Stat. § 28-115(a)(5); Kan. Stat. § 28-115(b).
- Kan. Stat. § 28-115(a), (b), and (i).
- Kan. Stat. § 28-115(g).
- See former 2014 Kan. Stat. § 79-3102(6) (assessing mortgage registration tax); repealed eff. Jan. 1, 2019.
- Kan. Stat. § 79-1437c.
- Kan. Stat. § 79-1437d.
- Kan. Stat. § 79-1437e.
- See Kan. Stat. § 79-1437e(a)(1 – 16).
- Kan. Stat. § 58-2205.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-2203.
- See, e.g., Lewis v. Jetz Service Co., 9 P.3d 1268, 1270 (Kan. Ct. App. 2000).
- See Gotheridge v. Unified School District, 512 P.2d 478, (Kan. 1973).
- Kan. Stat. § 58-2204.
- See Kan. Stat. § 40-1136(g).
- Kan. Stat. § 59-3501.
- Kan. Stat. § 59-3504(a).
- Kan. Stat. § 59-3506.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-503.
- Kan. Stat. § 59-2311; Kan. Stat. § 59-1410; Kan. Stat. § 59-1413.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-2272.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-501.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-501.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-501.
- Kirkpatrick v. Ault, 280 P.2d. 637 (Kan. 1955); Kan. Stat. § 58-501.
- See Kan. Stat. § 58-2401.
- See Kan. Stat. § 58a-402 (setting requirements for creation of a Kansas trust).
- Kan. Const., Art. 15, Sec. 9.
- Kan. Stat. § 59-505.
- Kan. Stat. § 59-504.
- Kan. Stat. § 59-6a213.
- Kan. Stat. § 59-6a203.
- Kan. Stat. § 59-6a202.
- Kan. Stat. § 59-6a202(b).
- Kan. Stat. § 59-6a215; Kan. Stat. § 59-6a201(k).
- Kan. Stat. § 23-2801.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-2401; Kan. Stat. § 58-2210.
- Kan. Stat. § 58a-810(e).
- Kan. Stat. § 58a-810(c).
- Kan. Stat. § 58a-1013.
- Kan. Stat. § 58-2403.
- Kan. Stat. § 58a-816.
- Kan. Stat. § 17-6102(d).
- See Kan. Stat. § 17-7919.
- Kan. Stat. § 17-6003(b).
- Kan. Stat. § 17-6003(b); see also Kan. Stat. § 58-654(b).
- Kan. Stat. § 17-1704.
- See Kan. Stat. § 17-7668(a – c).
- Kan. Stat. § 17-7693.
- Kan. Stat. § 17-7698.
- Kan. Stat. § 17-7668(i).
- Kan. Stat. § 56a-204.
- Kan. Stat. § 56a-301.
- Kan. Stat. § 56a-302(a).
- Kan. Stat. § 56-1a101(g) and (f).
- Kan. Stat. § 56-1a253.