A distribution deed is a way to legally transfer real property when the distribution of the property can’t be determined from a person’s will.  Usually, the distribution of the deceased person’s home will happen according to their directions contained in their will. 

If this cannot be determined due to unclear instructions, or if the person never left a will (i.e. they died intestate), a party can obtain a distribution deed which would secure the transfer of the real estate.  Basically, the party obtaining the distribution deed then assumes control and ownership of the property.

Distribution deeds are generally used in reference to the deceased person’s residential home.  But they are also commonly used for other types of property, such as a plot of land owned by the deceased person, or a residential condo owned by the deceased person.

What Does a Distribution Deed Contain?

A distribution deed may contain vital information regarding the property in dispute.  Specifically, it will contain information relating to the deceased person and their intentions as to the distribution of the property.  This may include information such as:

  • Facts describing the death of the property owner
  • Facts involved with the processing or probate of the will
  • Identification of the property to be distributed
  • Identification of the party who will assume ownership of the property.
  • Other related information such as that referring to any restrictions, covenants, easements, tax debt, etc. connected with the property

Generally speaking, a distribution deed should contain clear and unambiguous descriptions and information.  In fact, it distribution deeds usually become necessary due to an unclear provision in will.  In order to avoid repeating such mistakes, the distribution deed should clearly identify the property as well as the recipient(s) of the property.

For instance, the property should be identifiable through the descriptions listed in the distribution deed; the parties shouldn’t need to refer to another document in order to identify which property is being described. 

Are Distribution Deeds Enforceable?

Distribution deeds are generally enforceable under law, as they are generally issued by the court.  The party seeking to gain ownership simply needs to file a request with the court for a distribution deed.  This may involve some court fees and some research by the court and/or an attorney in order to determine whether the party is eligible to own the property. 

However, unlike other types of deeds, a distribution deed does not always guarantee warranty of title.  That is, other deeds usually contain an implicit guarantee that the title to the property is being transferred.  In order to obtain warranty of title, the party filing for the distribution deed may need to take extra measures, such as researching and filing with the county recorder’s office regarding the property. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Distribution Deed?

Obtaining a distribution deed may sometimes be necessary to ensure that the real property goes to the correct party.  Distribution deeds can help the property to remain in the person’s family rather than reverting back to the state.  However, distribution deeds can sometimes be complicated.  Thus, you may need to contact an estate lawyer if you need assistance in obtaining a distribution deed.  Your attorney can help you with the required legal paperwork, and can represent you in court in the event that there’s a legal conflict over the property.