A Wisconsin deed must be correctly formatted for recording and must include all information required for an effective conveyance of real estate. The rules and requirements for creating a valid deed in Wisconsin are described below.
Formatting Requirements for Wisconsin Deeds
Wisconsin law establishes the following formatting requirements for deeds and other recorded instruments. The register of deeds may reject an incorrectly formatted deed.1
- Paper Color and Weight. A Wisconsin deed must be printed on white paper of at least 20-pound weight.2
- Page Size. The paper used for a deed must measure 8 ½ inches in width and have a length of either 11 inches (standard letter-size) or 14 inches (legal-size). The maximum allowable deviation from these measurements is 0.25 inch.3
- Ink Color. Ink used for a deed must be black, blue, or red—except that signatures and coded notations on maps may be other colors.4
- The top margin of each of a deed’s pages must be at least 0.5 inches. The bottom and side margins of each page must be at least 0.25 inches.5.
- Unbound Pages. If a deed includes multiple pages, the pages must not be hinged or otherwise joined completely at the top or sides.6
- Legible Copies. A deed must be clearly printed. Letters, numbers, symbols, diagrams, and other representations within a deed must be large enough and dense enough to permit reproduction of legible copies and digital images using a copy machine, microfilm camera, or optical scanner.7
- First-Page Requirements. Wisconsin’s deed-formatting rules require the inclusion of multiple items within a deed’s first page. A deed’s first page must include:
- Title of Deed. The top of a deed’s first page must include a clearly printed title or name of the document. The name must appear not less than 0.5 inches nor more than 3 inches from the top of the document.8
- Space for Document Number. The upper left-hand corner of a deed’s first page must include a horizontal blank space measuring 0.5 x 2 inches. The blank space must be within 3 inches of the top of the page. The recording office inputs the instrument’s unique document number within the blank space upon recording.9
- Space for Recording Stamp. The upper right-hand corner of a deed’s first page must include a blank area measuring at least 3 inches by 3 inches to allow the register of deeds to input recording information.10
- Return Address. A deed must include a horizontal area measuring at least 1 inch by 3 inches for the return address. The return address may be placed in one of three areas: (i) directly below the space for recording information; (ii) directly below the space for the document number; or (iii) directly below the title of the instrument. The return address must not extend further than 3 inches from the top of the document.11.
- Parcel Identification Number. If a deed will be recorded in a county whose board requires the use of Parcel Identifier Numbers, the parcel ID number must appear on the first page.12 The parcel ID number should be included in a space and line labeled “parcel ID number” (or a close variation) directly below the return address section.13
County registers of deeds must provide (upon request) a blank form to aid in compliance with the statutory first-page requirements. The completed form with all fields filled contains the information that must appear on the deed’s first page. The completed form may serve as the recorded deed’s first page.14
Content Requirements for Wisconsin Deeds
The deed delivered by a property’s current owner to the new owner must state each of the following items to effect a valid transfer of Wisconsin real estate.15
- Names of the Parties. The deed must identify the current owner transferring property—the grantor—and the new owner to whom property is transferred—the 16
- Identification of Transferred Real Estate. The deed must identify the property conveyed using a full legal description (see legal description below).17
- Ownership Interest Conveyed. The deed must identify the ownership interest conveyed, along with any material terms, conditions, reservations, exceptions, or contingencies.18
- Legal Description. The legal description requirement may be satisfied through
- A metes-and-bounds description and identification by (i) government lot, (ii) recorded private claim, or (iii) quarter section, section, township, and range;19
- If a property is part of a recorded subdivision plat, identification by the name of the plat and the applicable lot and block within the plat;20
- If a property is subject to a certified survey map, by reference to the map number, lot or outlot number, document and/or volume-and-page number assigned to the map, and county;21, or
- If a property is part of a platted condominium development, by condominium name, unit number, and appurtenance number.22
- Name of Document Drafter. The person responsible for the preparation of a Wisconsin deed must be identified by name within the instrument.23 This requirement is typically satisfied by inclusion of the following statement at the end of the deed: “This instrument was drafted by (preparer’s name).”
- Social Security Numbers. A register of deeds will not accept a deed for recording if it includes any individual’s Social Security number.24
Execution Requirements for Wisconsin Deeds
- Current Owner’s Signature. The transferred real estate’s current owner—the grantor—must sign the deed.25
- Spousal Signature for Homesteads. If a deed transfers a married owner’s interest in a qualifying Wisconsin homestead, the owner’s spouse must sign the deed or join in the transfer by a separate conveyance. Spousal consent is required even if the spouse is not a record owner of the property.26 The spousal signature requirement does not apply to conveyances between spouses or a purchase money mortgage pledging the homestead property as security.27
- A notary’s certificate of other form of authentication—such as an affidavit or endorsement from an authorized officer—must accompany a Wisconsin deed.28
Fees for Wisconsin Deeds
- Wisconsin deeds are filed for recording with the county register of deeds for the county where the real estate is located.29
- Recording Fees. The recording fee payable to the register of deeds for recording a Wisconsin deed is $30.00—regardless of the number of pages.30
- Transfer Tax. Wisconsin assesses a transfer fee on real estate transfers at a rate of $0.30 for each $100.00 in value.31 If owed, the transfer fee is payable at the time of recording, or the person requesting recording may provide a receipt or exemption number instead.32 A deed submitted for recording must be accompanied by a completed Real Estate Transfer Return in the form prescribed by the Revenue Department.33 The form may be submitted electronically on the Department’s website.
Deeds Exempt from Wisconsin Transfer Tax
Certain conveyances—including the below categories of deeds—are exempt from the transfer fee by statute.34
- Deeds to or from government agencies;
- Deeds correcting a previously recorded deed;
- Deeds relating to a sale for delinquent taxes or assessments;
- Deeds relating to foreclosure or a transfer in lieu of foreclosure;
- Deeds relating to a partition;
- Deeds relating to merger, conversion, domestication, or interest-exchange of business entities;
- Deeds between close family members (including spouses under a divorce order);
- Deeds from a subsidiary to its parent company for little or no consideration;
- Deeds from a trustee to a beneficiary;
- Deeds transferring inherited real estate;
- Transfer on death deeds;
- Deeds transferring real estate worth less than $1,000;
- Deeds from a corporation, LLC, or partnership to a shareholder, member, or partner if all owners of the entity are related family members; and
- Deeds to a trust if the deed would be exempt if it transferred the real estate directly to the trust’s beneficiary.
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(a) and (b).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(b)(1).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(b)(2).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(b)(5).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(b)(6) and (7).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(b)(3).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(b)(4).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(a)(1).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(a)(2).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(b)(3).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(a)(4).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(7).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(a)(5).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m)(c).
- Wis. Stat. §706.02(1)(a).
- Wis. Stat. §706.02(1)(a).
- Wis. Stat. §706.02(1)(b).
- Wis. Stat. §706.02(1)(c).
- Wis. Stat. §706.01(7r)(a); Wis. Stat. §66.0217(c).
- Wis. Stat. §706.01(7r)(a); Wis. Stat. §66.0217(1)(c)(2); Wis. Stat. §236.28.
- Wis. Stat. §66.0217(1)(c)(2); Wis. Stat. §236.34(3).
- Wis. Stat. §706.01(7r)(b).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(5)(a).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(1m)(a).
- Wis. Stat. §706.02(1)(d); Wis. Stat. §706.05(2)(a).
- Wis. Stat. §706.02(1)(f).
- Wis. Stat. §706.01(7)(d).
- Wis. Stat. §706.02(b); Wis. Stat. §706.06; Wis. Stat. §140.15.
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(1c)(a).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(2)(ag)(1).
- Wis. Stat. §77.22(1).
- Wis. Stat. §59.43(1c)(c).
- Wis. Stat. §77.22(2).
- See Wis. Stat. §77.25(1 – 21).