Southern Berkshire District Registry of Deeds

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I lose my deed?

Once a deed is recorded, the original document is returned by mail to either the new owner or the attorney handling the transaction. If the original is misplaced or lost, a copy may be obtained from the Registry of Deeds or from our website, www.masslandrecords.com. You may also obtain a certified copy at the Registry of Deeds. Certified copies cannot be ordered from the website. The certified copy from the Registry has the same legal effect as the original.

How do I add someone’s name to my deed?

A new deed will have to be drawn up, wherein you (the current owner) would convey interest in the property to yourself and the new co-owner. Once the deed is signed and notarized, it should then be recorded at the Registry of Deeds. There is a $125 filing fee. We strongly advise you to hire an attorney to do this for you.

How do I remove someone’s name from my deed?

That person would have to sign a new deed to transfer his or her interest in the property to you. Once the deed is signed and notarized, it should then be recorded at the Registry of Deeds. There is a $125 filing fee. We strongly advise you to hire an attorney to do this for you.

My husband recently passed away. Do I have to record a new deed?

Usually you would not have to record a new deed. Most married couples own real estate as tenants by the entirety, which means there is a right of survivorship. The surviving spouse automatically becomes the sole owner of the property. In order to show the change in ownership, a certified copy of your spouse’s death certificate should be recorded at the Registry of Deeds. There is a $75 recording fee for a death certificate. You should consult your attorney to be sure that nothing else needs to be done.

I just got married. Do I have to change my deed to my married name?

You do not need to change the deed unless you want to change your tenancy. If you and your fiancé owned the property as tenants in common, you may want to change to tenants by the entirety after the marriage. If you do not need to change tenancy, you will need to refer to both names in any future documents you may record at the Registry, i.e. “YOUR NEW NAME, formerly known as “YOUR OLD NAME.”

Can I draw up my own deed?

Yes, but deeds are legally binding documents that affect the rights of the parties to the deed and also their heirs, successors and assigns. The Registry is a recording agency only and cannot make out deeds or answer questions pertaining to legal matters. Deed forms are not available at the Registry. We strongly advise you to consult an attorney.

How do I find my deed?

You can perform a search for your deed at the Registry or by accessing our website, www.masslandrecords.com. The Registry indexes names as either Grantor (Seller) or Grantee (Buyer). To find your own deed you will need to enter your name as a Grantee. The computer will give you a book and page reference where you will find the copy of your deed. The copy can be printed from the website or obtained at the Registry.

How far back do the Registry records go?

Southern Berkshire Registry records date back to the mid 1750's, which are all available for public view at the Registry. Records are currently available online back to 1971.

How current are the records?

Information is available to the public as soon as it is entered into the system.

I paid off my mortgage. What do I do now?

You should receive a Discharge of Mortgage from the bank or mortgage company that will have to be recorded at the Registry. A $75 fee applies. Once the Discharge is recorded a link is created between it and the mortgage. Anyone viewing the mortgage after the Discharge is recorded will see that the mortgage was paid in full. The mortgage is never removed from Registry records. Some people mistakenly believe that the bank holds their deed until the mortgage is paid, but this is not the case. The deed is not returned upon payment of the mortgage. It is returned after it is recorded at the Registry, either to the owner of the property or to the attorney handling the transaction.

How do I find out if there are liens on my property and how would I have them removed?

You would perform a search either at the Registry or on our website www.masslandrecords.com by entering your name as a Grantor to find out if there are any liens against you. There are many different types of liens: mechanic’s liens, attachments, executions, municipal tax takings, and Federal or State income tax liens. To remove the lien you would need to obtain a document from the relevant party stating that the lien has been paid off or dissolved and record that document at the Registry. A $75 fee applies.

Can I record a document by mail?

Yes. Mail the original document, your check for the correct recording fee payable to “Commonwealth of Massachusetts” (please include a phone number on your check), and a self-addressed stamped envelope to “Southern Berkshire Registry of Deeds, 334 Main Street, Suite 2, Great Barrington, MA 01230-1894.” Documents received by mail are entered by the close of business on the day we receive them. You can check on the status of your document on our website, www.masslandrecords.com.

Can I record a document in person?

You can record a document at the Registry Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 and 4:00. You must have the original document and a check for the appropriate recording fee. The original document will be returned to you by mail once it has been completely processed.

What is the difference between Recorded Land and Registered Land?

Massachusetts has two separate systems of recording documents. Most property is known as Recorded Land. Documents pertaining to Recorded Land are recorded in the order we receive them and are assigned a book and page number. An owner of property in Registered Land (sometimes referred to as the “Torrens” system) is issued a Certificate of Title in which the Land Court declares that he or she is the owner of the property. Any document that pertains to that property is assigned a document number and is noted on the Certificate of Title. The Registered Land Department of the Registry retains all original documents, including the original deed. If you bring a deed to the Registry that is for Registered Land, and it is recorded in the Recorded Land section as opposed to the Registered Land section, it is not a valid deed and vice versa. Therefore, it is very important that you first determine whether your property is Recorded or Registered. In most cases, Registered Land documents will refer to a Certificate of Title number. If you are unsure, please ask a Registry employee before you record the document.

What if I have other questions?

Anyone at the Registry of Deeds can help you. We can be reached at 413- 528-0146.