Question: Last year, my neighbor gave us a small lot of land.  We paid short money and handled matters privately, without a lawyer.  I have the deed, but never recorded it with the registry of deeds.  Is it valid today?

Answer: Technically, yes.  You own the property, if the deed was:

  • signed by all owners;
  • properly identified the new owners;
  • described the property conveyed;
  • notarized by a valid notary public; and
  • delivered to the new owners.

Recording your deed is not required to make it valid.  It is required to secure your ownership against the rest of the world.

Imagine if your neighbor “forgot” about the deed they gave you last year.  What if they struck a new deal yesterday with another person, and wrote them a new deed.  If the new buyer records their new deed with the registry of deeds, today, you will be out of luck.

Get in your car now.  Drive to 365 Gorham Street, Lowell.  Walk into the first floor, take a right turn and meet with the nice staff of the registry of deeds.  For $125, you will secure your ownership against any challengers.

Attorney James Haroutunian practice includes estate planning law.  Contact him to begin your estate plan or with questions at the Haroutunian Law Office at 790 Boston Road, Billerica,,, 978-671-0711 or email at

Legal, Illegal, Choose, Choice, Antonym

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