Maine statutes set signing standards for deeds and identify certain information that a deed must contain to validly transfer real estate. Maine does not have statutory deed formatting standards, but the Maine Registers of Deeds Association publishes uniform formatting specifications observed throughout the state. A deed submitted for recording in Maine should satisfy the below criteria.
Formatting Standards for Maine Deeds
- Paper. Maine deeds are printed on 20-pound weight white paper. Pages are ordinarily 8 ½ x 11 inches (standard letter) and must not exceed 8 ½ x 14 inches (legal size). 33 M.R.S. § 651.
- Ink. A deed should be printed using black ink. Signatures are written in black or blue ink.
- Font Size. Font used within a deed should be no smaller than 10-point type.
- Margins. A Maine deed’s margins should be no smaller than the following:
- First page, top margin: 1 ¾ inch;
- Additional pages, top margin: 1 inch;
- Bottom margins: 1 ½ inch;
- Side margins: ¾ inch.
- Space for Recording Stamp. A deed must leave sufficient space for the register of deeds to input the recording information. 36 M.R.S. § 653. The register of deeds may charge $2.00 per page for additional pages necessary for the recording information.
- Legibility. A deed must be printed with sufficient clarity to allow copying and scanning to electronic format.
Content Requirements for Maine Deeds
- Grantor Name. Maine deeds must identify by name the current property owner (the grantor) transferring real estate. 36 M.R.S. § 653.
- Grantee Name and Address. A Maine deed must identify the new owner’s name and address—including street and number, municipality, and state. 33 M.R.S. § 456.
- Marital Status. Deeds customarily include the marital status of any parties who are natural person. See 33 M.R.S § 480.
- Property Description. A Maine deed must include a legal description identifying the transferred property. The description should include the name of the city, town, or unincorporated place where the property is situated. 33 M.R.S. § 651. Deeds often include a reference to a prior deed or survey describing the same property—though that is not strictly required.
- Vesting Clause. A deed must state that the current owner is transferring real estate to the new owner. The precise vesting clause varies according to the type of deed and warranty of title (if any) the current owner provides.
- Co-Ownership Form. A deed that transfers Maine real estate to two or more new owners should identify the new owners’ co-ownership form. Maine law authorizes tenancy in common and joint tenancy. 33 M.R.S. § 159.
- Consideration. An otherwise valid Maine deed need not state any consideration provided for the transfer. 33 M.R.S. § 353-A(1). Maine deeds frequently cite nominal consideration or state that the owner provides the deed for consideration paid.
Execution Requirements for Maine Deeds
- Current Owner’s Signature. The current owner transferring real estate or the owner’s authorized agent must sign a Maine deed. 33 M.R.S. §§ 161, 203, 452. A signer’s printed or typed name must appear immediately below the signature. 33 M.R.S. § 651-A.
- Power of Attorney. A power of attorney form that gives an agent authority to sign a deed for the owner must be recorded in the county where the property is located. 33 M.R.S. § 353-A(4).
- Notarization. A Maine deed must be acknowledged before a notary or other authorized officer. 33 M.R.S. § 201. The certificate of acknowledgment must be included in the deed or recorded as an attachment to the deed. 33 M.R.S. § 306. Maine provides statutory short-form notary blocks within 4 M.R.S. § 1016 and 33 M.R.S. § 761.
Recording Fees for Maine Deeds
- Recording Deeds. Maine deeds are recorded with the register of deeds for the county where the property is located. 33 M.R.S. § 201. One of Maine’s counties—Aroostook County—has a northern and southern registry.
- Recording Fees. The register of deeds’ recording fee in most counties is $22.00 for a deed’s first page, plus $3.00 for each additional page. 36 M.R.S. § 751. The first-page fee consists of a standard $19.00 recording fee and a $3.00 records-preservation surcharge Maine law allows counties to collect. 36 M.R.S. § 752.
Maine Transfer Tax
- Maine Transfer Tax. Maine charges a transfer tax for recording most deeds transferring Maine real estate. 36 M.R.S. § 4641-A(1). Transfer tax must be paid to the register of deeds at the time of recording a deed that is not exempt from the tax. 36 M.R.S. § 4641-B(1). The current owner and new owner are each responsible for half the tax amount under Maine law. 36 M.R.S. § 4641-A(1)(B).
- Transfer Tax Rates. Maine’s transfer tax rate is $2.20 for each $500 of consideration paid for the real estate. 36 M.R.S. § 4641-A(1)(A). Consideration is defined as the total sum paid, or required to be paid, valued in dollars. 36 M.R.S. § 4641(1). The amount includes the amount of any mortgages, liens or encumbrances affecting the property—regardless of whether the new owner assumed the underlying debt. A deed transferring real estate for nominal consideration—defined as less than 20 percent of fair market value—is taxed according to the price the property would reasonably cost in an arms-length purchase. 36 M.R.S. § 4641(3).
- Real Estate Transfer Tax Declaration. Most deeds must be accompanied by a completed Declaration of Value (Form RETTD) when filed for recording. The form provides information about the property and parties and calculates transfer tax using the sale price of fair market value. A Form RETTD submitted with an exempt deed must identify the reason for exemption. Maine TOD deeds do not require a declaration of value.
- Transfer Tax Exemptions. Maine specifically exempts 21 categories of recorded documents from transfer tax. 36 M.R.S. § 4641-C. Common types of deeds that are exempt from Maine’s transfer tax include:
- Deeds that confirm, correct, modify, or supplement a previously recorded deed without consideration and without changing ownership; 36 M.R.S. § 4641-C(3).
- Deeds between spouses, parent and child, grandparent and grandchild, or between spouses in divorce proceedings; 36 M.R.S. § 4641-C(4).
- Deeds created pursuant to a merger or consolidation of business entities if no gain or loss is recognized; 36 M.R.S. § 4641-C(7).
- Deeds from a subsidiary to a parent corporation for no consideration other than cancellation or surrender of the subsidiary’s stock; 36 M.R.S. § 4641-C(8).
- Deeds distributing property under the Maine Uniform Trust Code or Maine Probate Code; 36 M.R.S. § 4641-C(11)
- Deeds to a trustee, nominee, or straw for the grantor as beneficial owner (such as a deed transferring real estate to the owner’s revocable living trust); 36 M.R.S. § 4641-C(15)(A).
- Deeds to a trustee, nominee, or straw for another person’s benefit if the deed would be exempt if made directly from the grantor to the trust’ beneficiary; 36 M.R.S. § 4641-C(15)(B).
- Deeds from a trustee to a beneficiary; 36 M.R.S. § 4641-C(15)(C).
- Deeds from a family business entity to an owner of the entity for no consideration other than an interest in the entity; 36 M.R.S. § 4641-C(16).
- Deeds transferring real estate under a Maine transfer-on-death deed. 36 M.R.S. § 4641-C(21).