- What types of deeds are recognized in Ohio?
- What types of estate planning deeds does Ohio use?
- Where are deeds filed in Ohio?
- What is the cost to file an Ohio deed?
- Does Ohio Charge a Real Estate Transfer Tax?
- What is the Procedure for Recording an Ohio Deed?
- What Forms are Required When Recording an Ohio Deed?
- Methods for Multiple Owners to Hold Title to Ohio Real Estate
- Spousal Ownership of Real Estate in Ohio
- Other Considerations for Ohio Deeds
An Ohio property owner transfers an ownership interest in real estate using a written deed signed by the owner.1 Ohio law recognizes three basic deed types—distinguishable according to the warranty of title provided by each. Warranty of title—called covenants of warranty in the Ohio statutes—is essentially the current owner’s guaranty that a property’s title is free from undisclosed title defects—such as liens, adverse claims, and unclear chain of title.
Ohio law recognizes each of the following statutory deed forms:
- General Warranty Deeds. An Ohio general warranty deed form transfers Ohio real estate with complete warranty of title.4 The current owner guarantees that the property’s title is free of defects not identified in the deed and bears all the risk of unknown problems with the title. The new owner can sue the current owner for breach of warranty if a third party asserts a valid claim against the property in the future. A general warranty deed provides the most comprehensive warranty of title—covering defects that arose at any point in the property’s chain of title. General warranty deeds are sometimes called just warranty deeds.
- Limited Warranty Deeds. An Ohio limited warranty deed form divides the risk of undisclosed defects between the current and new owners.5 The current owner’s guaranty covers the period during which the current owner owned the property—but not before. The new owner therefore bears the risk of defects that arose before the current owner took title. Many states call deeds with limited warranty of title special warranty deeds, and other states use the terms grant deed and covenant deed for the same concept.6
- Quitclaim Deeds. An Ohio quitclaim deed form transfers Ohio real estate with no warranty of title.7 The new owner bears the entire risk of title defects regardless of when they arose. If a defect emerges, the new owner has no claim for breach of warranty against the current owner—regardless of whether the defect was known or disclosed. Quitclaim deeds are also called release deeds because they are sometimes used to relinquish a co-owner’s interest to another co-owner or to release an uncertain ownership claim.
Ohio law recognizes several other specialized types of deeds named for the purposes they serve or setting in which they are used. The below deed types are often relevant to financial and estate planning.
- Survivorship Deed. An Ohio survivorship deed form creates a survivorship tenancy in two or more new owners to whom the deed jointly transfers real estate.8 A survivorship tenancy is similar to a joint tenancy with right of survivorship in other jurisdictions. When one co-owner dies, the deceased owner’s interest automatically vests in the surviving owner. When only one of the joint owners is still living, the surviving owner holds complete title to the real estate.
Ohio’s legislature provides a statutory survivorship deed form within O.R.C. §5302.17. Ohio survivorship deeds are a helpful tool for transferring Ohio real estate outside of probate and can convey property with or without warranty of title—depending on the language of an individual survivorship deed.
- Transfer on Death Deed. A transfer on death deed—also called TOD deed or beneficiary deed— transfers real estate to a named beneficiary effective upon the current owner’s death. An Ohio property owner designates a TOD beneficiary by executing and recording an Ohio transfer-on-death designation affidavit—rather than a separate TOD deed, as in some states.9 The designated beneficiary automatically receives title to the property upon the owner’s death. Until the owner dies, the TOD affidavit does not affect the owner’s right to sell, transfer, or use the real estate.10
- Life Estate Deed. An Ohio life estate deed conveys or reserves an interest in real estate that concludes upon the death of the interest holder—called a life tenant.11 Ownership then vests in a remainderman named in the life estate deed. Life estate deeds have become less common than TOD deeds because the remainderman’s future interest limits a life tenant’s right to transfer, sell, or use the real estate during life.
- Fiduciary’s Deed. Ohio’s real estate statutes include a statutory deed form fiduciaries use to transfer real estate in a representative capacity. The fiduciary deed form’s cumbersome name is deed of executor, administrator, trustee, guardian, receiver, or commissioner.12 An Ohio fiduciary’s deed might be used by—for example—a personal representative or executor acting for a deceased person’s estate, a trustee acting for a trust, or a guardian acting for an incapacitated person. Fiduciary deeds include implied covenants from the signing fiduciary that the signer (i) was appropriately appointed as a fiduciary, (ii) has the authority to transfer the real estate, and (iii) complied with all relevant statutes relating to the sale or transfer of the real estate.13
A deed transferring Ohio real estate is filed in the county recorder’s office of the county where the property is situated.14 The county recorder’s office records the deed in the county’s “official records” and indexes the deed by party names, date, and property description.15 If transferred real estate sits in more than one county, a deed should be recorded in all applicable counties.16
A recorded deed provides third parties—including later purchasers or anyone else who might claim an interest in the property—with constructive notice of the transfer.17 A recorded deed does not serve as constructive notice if it includes an error preventing accurate indexing by the county recorder.18
Ohio county recorders charge a $34.00 recording fee for a deed’s first two pages and $8.00 for each subsequent page.19 A recorder may charge an additional $20.00 fee for filing a deed that does not meet Ohio’s formatting standards.20 The county auditor charges a $0.50 fee per parcel for transferring ownership of each parcel a deed transfers.21
Local recording and transfer fees vary by county. The Ohio Recorders’ Association’s website includes a County Directory with county-level recording fees and related information for each Ohio county.
Ohio assesses a conveyance fee—similar to transfer taxes in other jurisdictions—on real estate transfers.22 Ohio’s conveyance fee is $1.00 for each $1,000 of the real estate’s value—typically based on the purchase price of the transferred property. The seller is responsible for paying the conveyance fee unless the parties agree otherwise.23
Ohio law exempts 25 transfer types from the conveyance fee.24 Exempt deeds include:
- Deeds to or from governmental agencies;
- Deeds gifting real estate between spouses or between parents and children;
- Deeds issued solely to facilitate the prompt resale of real estate to another person;
- Deeds transferring real estate for no consideration;
- Deeds transferring real estate to a charity or other tax-exempt organization for no consideration;
- Deeds transferring real estate among a deceased owner’s heirs; and
- Deeds transferring real estate to the trustee of a revocable trust or from a revocable trust back to the person who formed the trust.
The county auditor must approve an Ohio deed before recording with the county recorder’s office.25 To obtain the auditor’s approval, the new owner submits the deed to the auditor with a completed Real Property Conveyance Fee Statement of Value (DTE-100) or—if the deed is exempt from the conveyance fee—a Statement of Reason for Exemption from Real Property Conveyance Fee (DTE-100EX).26
The county auditor and county engineer of each Ohio county adopt standards for real estate conveyances within the county.27 County standards typically include—for example—standards for legal descriptions of transferred real estate. A county auditor will not approve a deed that does not satisfy the county’s conveyancing standards.
The county auditor affixes the auditor’s endorsement to an approved deed and indicates that the auditor has transferred the property’s title or that transfer is unnecessary. The auditor’s endorsement documents payment of the conveyance fee or that the deed is exempt.28 In some counties, the county engineer must also approve a deed before recording.29 Counties vary as to the circumstances under which an engineer’s stamp is necessary. An Ohio county may—for instance—only require the engineer’s approval if the deed uses a new legal description or subdivides a lot.
Individual county recorders differ in their specific deed-filing procedures and the extent to which they coordinate with the county auditor’s office. Some county recorders accept deeds for recording by mail. Other counties require in-person filing. A few counties allow electronic filing—submitting a deed through an online platform rather than as a physical document.
The Ohio Recorders’ Association’s County Directory outlines each county’s deed-recording requirements and procedures.
The new owner of transferred real estate obtains the county auditor’s endorsement by completing either a Real Property Conveyance Fee Statement of Value (Form DTE-100) or Statement of Reason for Exemption from Real Property Conveyance Fee (Form DT 100EX). The forms are prescribed by the Ohio Tax Commissioner and provide information—such as the real estate’s value—the auditor uses to calculate the conveyance fee owed, if any.30
Ohio also requires a Residential Property Disclosure Form—a form published by the Ohio Department of Commerce—when a transfer involves residential real estate.31 The residential disclosure form discloses information about utilities; the condition of the property and its mechanical systems; potential hazards; and known issues relating to zoning, ordinances, and HOA rules. The current property owner delivers a completed residential disclosure to a prospective purchaser.
Certain residential transfers are exempt from the disclosure, including
- Transfers made by a fiduciary administering a deceased person’s estate;
- Transfers between co-owners;
- Transfers to an owner’s spouse, child, or grandchild;
- Transfers of newly constructed homes; and
- Transfers to a new owner who has lived in the home for at least one year prior to the transfer.32
Co-owners of Ohio real estate have a few options for holding title. The deed through which co-owners receive title typically specifies the co-ownership method. Ohio law also allows a real estate owner or owners to convey real estate to themselves—allowing a sole owner to become a joint owner or co-owners to change their joint-ownership form.33
- Tenancy in Common. Ohio law assumes that two or more persons who co-own real estate are tenants in common.34 Tenants in common own separate, fractional interests that each owner can transfer separately. Tenancy in common does not include a right of survivorship, so a tenant in common can transfer an interest by will or using an Ohio transfer-on-death designation affidavit.35
- Survivorship Tenancy. Ohio does not recognize joint tenancy with right of survivorship—a common-law form of joint ownership under which a surviving co-owner automatically receives a deceased co-owner’s interest. However, Ohio law authorizes another form of co-ownership—survivorship tenancy—that operates similarly.36 Upon the death of a joint owner—or survivorship tenant—the deceased owner’s interest vests in the surviving owner with no need for probate.37
An Ohio survivorship tenancy is created by recording a survivorship deed conveying real estate to joint owners “for their joint lives, remainder to the survivor of them.”38 When a co-owner dies, a surviving co-owner formalizes the transfer of the deceased owner’s interest by recording either an affidavit with a certified copy of the death certificate or a certificate of transfer.39 A certificate of transfer is a document issued by an Ohio probate court and recorded by an estate’s executor to officially transfer a deceased person’s real estate to a beneficiary.40
- Tenancy by the Entirety. Ohio no longer allows tenancy by the entirety—a joint ownership form with right of survivorship only used by married spouses.41 A tenancy by the entirety in Ohio real estate created by a deed recorded before April 4, 1985, is still valid.
- Real Estate Held in Trust. Co-owners of Ohio real estate also have the option of creating a trust to hold legal title to the property.42 To do so, the co-owners form a trust to hold title—with the co-owners named as beneficiaries of the trust. One or more co-owners can serve as trustee—retaining effective control of the real estate.43 The real estate must be formally transferred to the trust by deed.
Spouses commonly co-own Ohio real estate as survivorship tenants—allowing a surviving spouse to automatically acquire complete title to a property upon the other spouse’s death.44 Ohio spouses can also jointly own real estate as tenants in common with separately transferable interests.45 A survivorship tenancy between spouses is automatically severed and reverts to a tenancy in common if the co-owner spouses divorce.46
Ohio law grants a non-owner spouse an interest in real estate individually owned by the other spouse through an old-fashioned marital-property system called dower. Dower rights—which most states no longer recognize—traditionally gave wives an interest in property acquired by their husbands. Dower’s purpose was to protect married women—whose right to own property was limited historically—against abandonment.
Ohio’s dower statute grants a spouse a life estate interest in one-third of the real estate owned by the other spouse during the marriage.47 Dower rights terminate when the other spouse dies, the couple divorces, or the non-owner spouse voluntarily releases the dower rights.
A non-owner spouse must release dower rights when an owner spouse conveys Ohio real estate subject to the other spouse’s dower rights. Absent a release, the property remains subject to the dower rights—which may affect the new owner’s ability to transfer the property and lead to problems with the property’s title.
If a non-owner spouse with dower rights joins the owner spouse in executing a deed, the deed validly conveys the real estate to the new owner.48 Even so, the best practice in Ohio is for a spouse with dower rights to expressly waive the rights when transferring real estate.
Dower rights can also affect transfer-on-death designations on Ohio real estate. A married property owner recording an Ohio TOD affidavit should include within the affidavit a statement by the owner’s spouse that the spouse’s dower rights are subordinated to the vesting of title with the named TOD beneficiary.49
Ohio’s spousal elective share statute serves a purpose similar to dower—protecting surviving spouses against disinheritance by will. An elective share is a surviving spouse’s optional interest in a deceased spouse’s estate—including real estate—even if the deceased spouse leaves a will that does not provide for the surviving spouse.50
The amount of a surviving spouse’s elective share is either
- One-half of the net estate if the deceased spouse leaves one or no children; or
- One-third of the net estate if the deceased spouse leaves two or more children.51
A spouse can waive the elective share through a valid prenuptial agreement or by opting to take under a deceased spouse’s will instead of the elective share.
Ohio law provides special rules governing entities’ actions—including execution and acceptance of deeds. The following rules apply when an entity is a party to an Ohio deed:
- Deeds to and from Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). LLCs are the most popular business entity for owning Ohio real estate. An Ohio LLC executes a deed through an agent authorized to act on behalf of the company.52 An LLC’s authorized agent may be a member with the power to bind the company, a manager or other person given authority in the LLC’s operating agreement, or a person appointed to act for the company by a certificate of authority filed with the Ohio Secretary of State.53
- Deeds to and from Corporations. An Ohio corporation acts through or under the direction of its directors.54 Corporations typically execute deeds through an officer empowered by the directors to bind the corporation.55 Ohio law does not require that any specific officer sign a deed for a corporation, and a corporation’s directors can authorize a different agent to sign for the corporation. An out-of-state corporation must obtain authorization to transact business in Ohio before accepting title to Ohio real estate.56
- Deeds to and from Partnerships and LLPs. Partnerships are considered distinct legal entities under Ohio law, and an Ohio partnership can own real estate in its own name—rather than the names of individual partners.57 The partners of a general partnership are presumed to have authority to act for the partnership and the power to transfer partnership property.58 If real estate is titled in the name of one partner in that partner’s partnership capacity, the partner in whose name the property is titled must execute a deed transferring the property.59 A general partnership can record a statement of partnership authority to provide constructive notice of a partner’s power to execute a deed on behalf of the partnership.60
Ohio limited liability partnerships (LLPs) act through their general partners—who have the same authority as partners of a general partnership.61 A limited partner does not have authority to sign a deed for an Ohio LLP by virtue of being a limited partner.62
- Deeds to and from Trusts. A trust’s trustee executes a deed transferring Ohio real estate from the trust.63 A trustee can—but does not have to—use Ohio’s statutory deed form for fiduciaries.64
When a trustee receives property on behalf of a trust, the deed must clearly identify the trust, its beneficiaries, or a memorandum of trust or other recorded document that states the terms of the trust. A memorandum of trust is a document signed by the trustee stating (i) the trustee’s name and address, (ii) the trust’s date of execution, and (iii) the trustee’s powers relating to the acquisition, sale, and mortgage of real estate.65 A deed that simply identifies the new owner as a trustee—without more—is insufficient to provide constructive notice that the trustee is holding the property as a trust’s trustee.66
Ohio law requires a recorded affidavit when a trustee of a trust that owns Ohio real estate ceases to serve as trustee—whether due to resignation, death, or otherwise.67 The successor trustee executes the affidavit—which must identify the prior trustee, the trustees’ addresses, the deed under which the trust took title to the real estate, and the property’s legal description. The successor trustee records the affidavit in any county where the trust owns real estate.
Ohio’s statutory short-form notarization includes recommended notary acknowledgment forms for several different entity types.68 An entity executing an Ohio deed should use the recommended notary acknowledgment for the appropriate form of entity.
- O.R.C. §1335.04.
- See O.R.C. §5302.05; O.R.C. §5302.07; O.R.C. §5302.11.
- O.R.C. §5302.01.
- O.R.C. §5302.05.
- O.R.C. §5302.07.
- See, e.g., Oreg. Rev. Stat. §93.855; Cal. Civ. Code §1092.
- O.R.C. §5302.11.
- O.R.C. §5302.17.
- O.R.C. §5302.22(A)(5).
- O.R.C. §5302.23(B)(4).
- See, g., O.R.S. §2103.02.
- O.R.C. §5302.09.
- O.R.C. §5302.09.
- O.R.C. §5301.25(A).
- O.R.C. §317.08; O.R.C. §317.18.
- See O.R.C. §317.14.
- O.R.C. §5301.01(B)(1)(b).
- Columbia Gas Transm Corp v. Bennett, 594 N.E.2d 1 (Ohio App., 2nd Dist. 1990).
- O.R.C. §317.32.
- O.R.C. §317.114(B)(1).
- O.R.C. §319.54(G)(2).
- O.R.C. §319.54(G)(3).
- O.R.C. §319.202(C).
- O.R.C. 319.54(G)(3)(a – y).
- O.R.C. §317.22(A).
- See O.R.C. §319.202.
- O.R.C. §319.203.
- O.R.C. §317.22(A).
- See O.R.C. §317.114(A)(8).
- O.R.C. §319.201; O.R.C. §319.202.
- O.R.C. §5302.30.
- O.R.C. §5302.30(2)(a – n).
- O.R.C. §5302.18.
- O.R.C. §5302.19.
- O.R.C. §5302.22(C)(1).
- O.R.C. §5302.20.
- O.R.C. §5302.20(B).
- O.R.C. §5302.17.
- O.R.C. §5302.17.
- O.R.C. §2113.61.
- O.R.C. §5302.21.
- See O.R.C. §5804.01.
- See O.R.C. §5804.02(E).
- O.R.C. §5302.20.
- O.R.C. §5302.19.
- O.R.C. §5302.20(C)(5).
- O.R.C. §2103.02.
- O.R.C. §5301.071(A).
- O.R.C. §5302.22(D)(3).
- O.R.C. §2106.01(A).
- O.R.C. §2106.01(C).
- O.R.C. §1706.18.
- O.R.C. §1706.30(A)(1); O.R.C. §1706.18(A); O.R.C. §1706.19(A).
- O.R.C. §1701.59(A).
- O.R.C. §1701.64(B).
- O.R.C. §1703.28.
- O.R.C. §1776.23(A).
- O.R.C. §1776.31; O.R.C. §1776.32.
- O.R.C. §1776.32(A)(2).
- O.R.C. §1776.33.
- O.R.C. §1782.24(A).
- O.R.C. §1782.24(A).
- O.R.C. §5301.01(A).
- O.R.C. §5302.09; O.R.C. §5302.01.
- O.R.C. §5301.255(A).
- O.R.C. §5301.03.
- O.R.C. §5302.171.
- O.R.C. §147.55.