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GROTHMAN & ASSOCIATES, S.C.
P.O. Box 373
625 E. Slifer
Portage, WI 53901
(608) 742-7788
surveying@grothman.com
GLOSSARY OF SURVEYING, REAL ESTATE,
ASSESSMENT AND TAXATION TERMS


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ACKNOWLEDGMENT The process of establishing the fact that each signature on an instrument is genuine. In most cases, the signatures on documents must be authenticated or acknowledged before the register may accept them. An acknowledgment is a type of authentication often performed by a notary public. How authentication may take place is set out in ss. 706.06 and 706.07. Because registers of deeds are empowered by law to acknowledge documents, a working knowledge of these sections is important.

ACRE - The (English) acre is a unit of area equal to 43560 square feet, or 10 square chains, or 160 square poles. A square mile is 640 acres. The Scottish acre is 1.27 English acres.

AFFIDAVIT - A written or printed declaration or statement of facts, made voluntarily and confirmed by the oath or affirmation of the party making it, taken before a person having authority to administer such oath or affirmation.

AGREEMENT - The writing or instrument evidencing the intention between two or more parties with respect to the effect upon their relative rights and duties of certain past or future facts or performances. The consent of two or more parties concurring respecting the transmission of some property, right, or benefits, with the view of contracting a mutual obligation. Examples of agreements include:

    Holding Tank Agreement - The property owner agrees to adhere to a maintenance schedule for a waste water holding tank in order to obtain a permit from the county to allow its construction or continued use.
    Nonpoint Agreement - An agreement between a landowner and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) that certain conservation installations that were partially funded by the state will be maintained.
    Septic System Agreement - The property owner agrees to maintain a private septic system in order to obtain a permit from the county to allow its construction.
    Well Agreement -Two or more property owners agree to maintain a private well that is located on one of the properties and provides water to all the properties in the agreement.

ANNEXATION - The act of attaching, adding, joining, or uniting one thing to another; generally spoken of the connection of a smaller or subordinate thing with a larger or principal thing. Term is usually applied with respect to land or fixtures as: the acquisition of territory or land by a nation, state or municipality; the legal incorporation of a town or city into another town or city.

APPRAISAL - The process through which conclusions of property value are obtained; also refers to the report that sets forth the process of estimation and conclusion of value.

ARPENT - Unit of length and area used in France, Louisiana, and Canada. As a unit of length, approximately 191.8 feet. The (square) arpent is a unit of area, approximately .85 acres.

ASSESSMENT - The imposition of a tax, charge, or levy, usually according to established rates and by a municipality, government, or district having such authority.

    Special - A type of assessment unique to a particular area and/or project as opposed to a general assessment born by all the property owners in a certain taxation district.

ASSIGNMENT - The transfer in writing of interest in a bond, mortgage, lease, or other instrument.

ASSUMPTION OF MORTGAGE - Acquiring title to property on which there is an existing mortgage and agreeing to be personally liable for the terms and conditions of the mortgage, including payments.

AUTHENTICATION - The process of establishing the fact that each signature on an instrument is genuine. In most cases, the signatures on documents must be authenticated or acknowledged before the Register may accept them. An attorney may authenticate a signature on a legal document. How authentication may take place is set out in ss. 706.06 and 706.07. Because Registers of Deeds are empowered by law to acknowledge documents, a working knowledge of these sections is important.

ATTACHMENT - The act of taking a person's property into legal custody by writ or person's debt to a creditor.

AWARD - A written decision to monetarily compensate a party who has suffered loss due to the action or inaction of another, as determined by a deciding authority.

    Compensation - A payment to make amends for the abridgment of rights or injury.
    Condemnation - The payment for the taking of a person’s property without the owner’s consent.
    Damages - A payment for the loss of value to property adjoining a property taken in condemnation proceedings.

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BENCHMARK - A survey mark made on a monument having a known location and elevation, serving as a reference point for surveying.

BOUNDARIES - Every separation, natural or artificial, which marks the confines or line of division of two contiguous properties.

BURIAL SITE -Documents prepared by the State of Wisconsin Historical Society which locate human burial grounds and plots not included in a cemetery plat. State law prohibits their destruction.

BYLAWS - A document enumerating the regulations, ordinances, rules or laws adopted by an association or corporation or the like for its internal governance. Bylaws define the rights and obligations of various officers, persons or groups within the corporate structure and provide rules for routine matters such as calling meetings and the like.

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CALL - Any feature, landmark, or measurement called out in a survey. For example, "two white oaks next to the creek" is a call.

CERTIFICATE - A document stating some fact, signed by the party certifying; a written assurance, or official representation, that some act has or has not been done, or some event occurred, or some legal formality has been complied with. Example of a certificate:

CERTIFIED COPY - A document copy certified by the official records authority who has affixed his/her certification and seal to the copy.

CERTIFIED SURVEY MAP - A survey is performed according to State standards for the purpose of sub-dividing land into four or less parcels, or for the purpose of establishing property boundaries; it is represented graphically by a map drawn to scale, usually reviewed and approved by a local authority and presented for recording and filing. After this instrument is recorded, the land is henceforth described by the certified survey map number, lot number, volume and page where recorded, and name of the county.

CHAIN - Unit of length usually understood to be Gunter's chain, but possibly variant by locale. Chains equal to 2 poles (one half the standard length) are found in Virginia. The name comes from the heavy metal chain of 100 links that was used by surveyors to measure property bounds.

    Engineer's Chain - A 100 foot chain containing 100 links of one foot apiece.
    Gunter's Chain - Unit of length equal to 66 feet, or 4 poles. This unit was apparently defined as one tenth of a furlong, a common unit of length in the old days. The mile was redefined from 5000 feet to 5280 feet in order to be an even multiple of furlongs. A mile is 80 chains.

CHAIN CARRIER - An assistant to the surveyor, the chain carriers moved the surveying chain from one location to another under the direction of the surveyor. This was a position of some responsibility, and the chain carriers took an oath as "sworn chain carriers" that they would do their job properly. CHAIN OF TITLE - The succession of conveyances, from some accepted starting point, whereby the present holder of real property derives his or her title.

CHATTEL - Moveable items considered to be personal property and not real property.

CLOUD ON THE TITLE - Any document, claim, unreleased lien, or encumbrance that may impair the title to real property or make the title doubtful, usually revealed by a title search and removed by either a quit claim deed or suit to quiet title.

COMMON ELEMENTS - Parts of a property that are necessary or convenient to the existence, maintenance, and safety of a condominium, or are normally in common use by all of the condominium residents. Each condominium owner has an undivided ownership interest in the common elements.

CONDEMNATION - A judicial or administrative proceeding to exercise the power of eminent domain, through which a government agency takes private property for public use and compensates the owner.

CONDITIONAL LINE - An agreed line between neighbors that has not been surveyed.

CONDOMINIUM - The absolute ownership of an apartment or a unit (generally in a multi-unit building) based on a legal description of the airspace the unit actually occupies, plus an undivided interest in the ownership of the common elements, which are owned jointly with the other condominium unit owners.

CONSIDERATION - That which is received by the grantor in exchange for his or her deed.

CONSTRUCTIVE NOTICE - Notice given to the world by recorded documents regarding interests and rights in real estate. All people are charged with knowledge of such documents and their contents, whether or not they have actually examined them.

CONVEYANCE - A written instrument which evidences a transaction in which any interest in land is created, alienated, mortgaged, assigned or "otherwise affected in law or in equity". (s.706.01 (1))

COOPERATIVE - An association or enterprise owned by the members who contribute to the operations and receive profits jointly. In Wisconsin, members of a cooperative may record “cooperative contracts” using an instrument that names the cooperative, and provides notice that an interest in the title of all products sold by the members is vested in the association. The cooperative contract also names each member and gives the number of each contract.

CORNER - The beginning or end point of any survey line. The term corner does not imply the property was in any way square.

CORPORATIONS - The instruments filed with appropriate governmental agency, such as the Secretary of State and as of July 1, 1996, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, that establish the corporation, modify its organization, and perhaps later, extinguish it. Examples:

    Articles of Incorporation - The instrument which establishes the name, purpose, board of directors and mailing address of the corporation.
    Change of Office/Agent - The instrument which gives notice of a change of the official office location and or agent for the corporation.
    Corporate Name - The instrument which provides notice of the official name of the corporation and any modifications or other permitted usage of the name.
    Dissolution - The instrument which provides notice that the organization is no longer in existence.
    Merger - The combining of two or more corporations into one surviving corporation.

COVENANT - A written agreement between two or more parties in which a party or parties pledges to perform or not perform specified acts with regard to property; usually found in such real estate documents as deeds, mortgages, leases, and land contracts.

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DECLARATION - A document by the owner of property which is recorded in order to establish a legal order upon the property, such as a condominium. In Wisconsin, condominium declarations are controlled by chapter 703.

DECLINATION - The difference between magnetic north and geographic (true) north. Surveyors used a compass to determine the direction of survey lines. Compasses point to magnetic north, rather than true north. This declination error is measured in degrees, and can range from a few degrees to ten degrees or more. Surveyors may have been instructed to correct their surveys by a particular declination value. The value of declination at any point on the earth is constantly changing because the location of magnetic north is drifting.

DEDICATION - The voluntary transfer, or transfer as a condition of subdivision approval, of private property by its owner to the public for some public use, such as for streets or park land.

DEED - A written instrument that, when executed and delivered, conveys title to or an interest (usually ownership) in real estate. Examples of deeds include:

DEED RESTRICTIONS - Clauses in a deed limiting the future uses of the property.

DISTRICT - One of the territorial areas into which an area of the county, or other municipality, is divided for judicial, political, electoral or administrative purposes. The State of Wisconsin may establish districts and grant them taxing authority. Examples:

    Lake District - Wisconsin allows the residents surrounding major waterways to establish this type of district for conservation and preservation purposes.
    School District - Wisconsin established school districts shortly after the government surveys were completed; many modifications to the original districts have occurred over the years; local property taxes provide major support for the districts.
    Sewer District - Wisconsin allows these districts to be established for the purpose of handling community sewage. Property owners living in the district are assessed fees to construct and maintain the sewage system.
    Tax Incremental Finance - Wisconsin allows the deferment of real property taxes in order to encourage revitalization or other development of certain geographic areas.

DOCUMENT - (n.) Any written instrument meeting all statutory requirements which may be recorded or filed with the register of deeds; the image or original document is stored and accessible through various indexes by the general public unless the document is confidential.

DOCUMENT COPY - An exact reproduction of a document.

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EASEMENT - The right to use the land of another for a specific purpose is granted. An easement appurtenant passes with the land when conveyed.

ENCUMBRANCE - Any lien--such as a mortgage, tax, or judgment lien; an easement; a restriction on the use of the land--that may diminish the value of the property.

EQUITABLE TITLE - The interest held by a vendee under a land contract; the equitable right to obtain absolute ownership to property when legal title is held in another's name.

EXECUTION - The signing and delivery of an instrument. Also, a legal order directing an official to enforce a judgment against the property of a debtor.

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FARM PRESERVATION AGREEMENT - A document where a landowner agrees to implement and maintain conservation practices on agricultural land in exchange for property tax credits.

FARM NAME - An owner of a farm may record a document setting forth its name and location within the county.

FEE SIMPLE ESTATE - The maximum possible estate or right of ownership of real property, continuing forever.

FILE - (v.) To place on file within the office of the register of deeds, documents which are accepted by the register and are time stamped, assigned a unique document number and indexed.

FILING - To physically keep an original instrument in the Register's office.

FINANCING STATEMENT - An instrument filed with the Register of Deeds in order to give notice of a security agreement regarding personal property. Fixtures and personal property related to a business may affect interest in real estate associated with the business. See also, Uniform Commercial Code.

FIRMS & PARTNERSHIPS - Documents relating to sole proprietorships and general partnerships which are recorded in the office of the register of deeds.

FIRST STATION - See Point of Beginning

FORECLOSURE - A legal procedure whereby property used as security for a debt is sold to satisfy the debt in the event of default in payment of the mortgage. The foreclosure procedure brings the rights of all parties to a conclusion and passes the title of the mortgaged property to either the holder of the mortgage or a third party who may purchase the realty at the foreclosure sale.

FOREST LAND - A document in which the grantor agrees to implement and maintain a forestry management plan developed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in exchange for property tax benefits.

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GORE - A thin triangular piece of land, the boundaries of which are defined by surveys of adjacent properties. Loosely, an overlap or gap between properties.

GRANTEE - A person who receives a conveyance of real property from the grantor.

GRANTING CLAUSE - Words in a deed of conveyance that state the grantor's intention to convey the property at the present time.

GRANTOR - The person transferring title to or an interest in real property to a grantee.

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HECTARE - Metric unit of area equal to 10,000 square meters, or 2.471 acres.

HIDE - Old English unit of area usually equal to 120 acres.

HIGHWAY ACCESS - Notice of approval by a municipality, usually the county or state, for an access point or driveway at a particular location, onto a state or county highway.

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IMPROVEMENT - An improvement on land is any structure, usually privately owned, erected on a site to enhance the value of the property. An improvement to land is usually a publicly owned structure, such as a curb sidewalk, street or sewer.

INDENTURE - An instrument executed by both grantor and grantee, containing reciprocal agreements, grants or obligations. May have the effect of a mortgage instrument.

INDEXING - To provide a system for all recorded and filed documents which indicates where they can be found.

INSTRUMENT - A legal document which effects some change in rights and interests; often related to real estate. Many different types of instruments are recorded daily in the office of the Register of Deeds. New instruments are established as societal needs change.

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JOINT TENANCY - Ownership of real estate between two or more parties named in one conveyance as joint tenants. Upon the death of a joint tenant, his or her interest passes to the surviving joint tenant or tenants by the right of survivorship. In Wisconsin, an HT-110 form is completed and recorded by the surviving joint tenant.

JUDGMENT - The formal decision of a court upon the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action or suit. After a judgment has been entered and recorded with the Clerk of Courts, it usually becomes a general lien on the property of the defendant.

JUDGMENT - The formal decision of a court upon the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action or suit. After a judgment has been entered and recorded with the clerk of courts, it usually becomes a general lien on the property of the defendant. Examples are:

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LABOR - The labor is a unit of area used in Mexico and Texas. In Texas it equals 177.14 acres (or 1 million square varas).

LAND - The earth's surface, extending downward to the center of the earth and upward infinitely into space.

LAND CONTRACT - A contract for the sale of real estate wherein the purchase price is paid in periodic installments by the purchaser, who is in possession of the property. The vendor and vendee each have an interest in the property until final payment is made.

LANDMARK - A feature of the land such as a natural feature or improvement considered significant.

LAND SURVEYING - The science of measuring and mapping relative positions above, on or under the surface of the earth, or establishing such positions from legal or technical documents. Sometimes, one may also consider the Land Surveyor to be a "professional measurer". However, the Land Surveyor also deals not only with both mathematical and physical aspects of measuring, but applies them to the legal aspects of boundary law. Modern technology has changed how the Land Surveyor uses physical measuring and applying mathematics to the work. Modern instruments used to measure the land now reduces the physical labor involved in measuring, and has increased the accuracy. Advancements in computer technologies has increased the speed and reduced errors.

LEAGUE (legua) - Unit of area used in the southwest U.S., equal to 25 labors, or 4428 acres (Texas), or 4439 acres (California).

LEASE - Any agreement which gives rise to a relationship of landlord and tenant (real property) or lessor and lessee (real or personal property).

    Limited Life Estate - A special type of lease agreement between a non-profit organization which owns an apartment building and an individual or couple who wish to lease a unit as though they are purchasing a condominium. Because the property is owned by the non-profit organization that has tax-exempt status, no property taxes are levied. The legal descriptions read, “part of lot 1, Country Wood,” or “part of lot 1, CSM 3456,” and the viewer would have to look at the document for the unit number since it is not officially part of the plat. If the lease is for less than 99 years, the customer may use the statement, “This document is not a transfer as per 77.21(1),” and a transfer return not required.

LEASE & RENTS - The unrealized revenue from leases or rents from real estate may be used as collateral for a loan; it may be assigned to the mortgagee in an attachment to a mortgage or in a separate document.

LEGAL DESCRIPTION - A description of a parcel used to describe the location of your land in legal documents (for example, the deed to your land). It should be complete enough that a surveyor, by applying the rules of surveying, can locate the same and identify the property without oral testimony. See Tax Parcel Description.

LETTERS - A written instrument containing or attesting the grant of some power, authority or right.

    Administration - A probate court order appointing a special administrator.
    Conservatorship - A court order allowing a party to manage the affairs of another.
    Domiciliary - A document issued by Probate Court naming an individual to administer a decedent’s estate.
    Guardianship - A court order appointing one to manage the affairs of a minor or incompetent.

LICENSE - Permission to perform an act or series of acts on the land of another without vesting any title, interest or estate in such property. Such privilege is unassignable.

LIEN - A charge against or interest in property to secure payment of a debt, or performance of an obligation.

    Federal Tax Lien - A general lien (on all personal and real property) made by the federal government against an individual or firm for non-payment of federal income taxes.
    Medical Assistance Lien - A lien against real estate owned by an individual receiving medical assistance in Wisconsin.
    Tax Deferral Lien - A lien against real estate as collateral for a loan for real property taxes. Issued by Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and often used by elderly residents who have accumulated significant equity in their homes.

LIFE ESTATE - An instrument granting or reserving life tenancy to the beneficiary. Upon the death of the life tenant, the property will go to the holder of the remainder interest.

LINE TREE - Any tree that is on a property line, specifically one that is also a corner to another property.

LINK - Unit of length equal to 1/100 chain (7.92 inches).

LIS PENDENS - A recorded (or filed) legal document giving constructive notice that an action affecting a particular property has been filed in either a state or federal court. Latin for “case pending.”

    Divorce - Notice that a divorce case is pending which may affect real estate.
    Foreclosure - Notice that a foreclosure action is pending; the intent of the action is to extinguish all rights of the owners in order to sell the property to satisfy the lien against the property.
    Street Vacation - Notice given by a municipality that a road right of way is being abandoned.

LOT-AND-BLOCK DESCRIPTION - A description of real property that identifies a parcel of land by reference to lot and block numbers within a subdivision, as specified on a plat of subdivision duly recorded in the office of the Register of Deeds.

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MARITAL PROPERTY - Chapter 766 of Wisconsin Statutes establishes marital property as community property on all personal and real property gained during the period of the marriage; each spouse has an undivided one-half ownership interest in personal and real property. Chapter 766 also sets forth several instruments designed to modify marital property laws.

MARKETABLE TITLE - Good or clear title, reasonably free from the risk of litigation over possible defects.

MEANDER - "with the meanders of the stream" means the survey line follows the twists and turns of the stream.

MECHANIC'S LIEN - Also referred to as a construction lien and may be obtained by those who furnish labor, materials or professional services in the improvement of an owner's land or buildings. The contractor must file a lien with the Clerk of Circuit Court within six months after completing the work.

MERESTONE - A stone that marks a boundary. See monument.

METES-AND-BOUNDS DESCRIPTION - A legal description of a parcel of land that begins at a well-marked point and follows the boundaries, using directions and distances around the tract back to the place of beginning. Wisconsin statutes now require that the point of beginning be referenced to at least one Public Land Survey System monument.

MEMORANDUM - An informal record, note or instrument embodying something that the parties desire to fix in memory by the aid of written evidence, or that is to serve as the basis of a future formal contract or deed. A brief written statement outlining the terms of an agreement or transaction.

MINERAL CLAIM - An interest in minerals in land, with or without ownership of the surface of the land. A right to take minerals or a right to receive a royalty. In Wisconsin, the register of deeds must provide customers with standard forms for this instrument as per S.706.057(7).t.

MONUMENT - A fixed natural or artificial object used to establish real estate boundaries for a metes-and-bounds description.

MORTGAGE - A pledge of real estate as security for the payment of a debt; also the document creating a mortgage lien.

    Note - A document detailing the specifics of the mortgage agreement, such as the payment schedule, signed by the mortgagor (borrower) and given to the mortgagee (lender) immediately prior to the signing of the mortgage instrument. Generally, the mortgage instrument, which contains general information, is recorded, not the note.
    Security Agreement - A general term used to describe many different kinds of debtor-creditor relationships. When used to describe a type of real estate mortgage, it often refers to a second mortgage, home equity loan, or equity line of credit which is usually considerably less than a first mortgage loan on the same property.

MORTGAGEE - A lender in a mortgage loan transaction. The mortgagee receives the mortgage document and keeps it until the loan is satisfied.

MORTGAGOR - A borrower who uses his or her property as security for a loan.

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NOTICE - A document providing information, and advice, or warning, intended to apprise a party of some proceeding in which the party’s interests are or may be involved, or inform the party of some fact which is his/her right to know and the duty of the notifying party to communicate.

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OFFICIAL MAP - A map of a municipality represented by that municipality to be the official map of the lands within and the boundaries of the municipality; usually drawn to scale and containing information regarding publication date or the most recent update.

OPTION - A contract made for consideration to keep an offer open for a prescribed period; a right, which acts as a continuing offer, given for consideration, to purchase or lease property at an agreed upon price and terms, within a specified time.

ORDER - A document containing the direction of a court or judge, or other governmental body, made in writing but not included in a judgment, which determines some point or directs some step in the proceedings.

ORDINANCE - A rule established by an authority; a permanent rule of action; a law or statute. Usually used to designate the enactments of the legislative body of a municipality.

OUT - An 'out' was ten chains. When counting out long lines, the chain carriers would put a stake at the end of a chain, move the chain and put a stake at the end, and so on until they ran "out" of ten stakes.

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PARCEL - A specific tract of real estate defined by a legal description and used for taxing purposes, among others. Also termed a surveyor's parcel and a tax parcel.

PATENT - The instrument by which a government grants public lands to an individual.

PERCH - See pole

PERSONAL PROPERTY - Items called chattels that do not fit into the definition of real property; moveable objects.

PLANS - A method of design or action, procedure, or arrangement for accomplishment of a particular act; also, a map or sketch of a specific land area showing various attributes of the land as actual or proposed.

PLAT - A map of a specific land area such as a town, section, or subdivision showing the location and boundaries of individual parcels of land subdivided into lots, with streets, easements, etc., usually drawn to scale. The map is representative of a survey performed by a registered land surveyor. Most plats must receive approval by state and local government in order to be filed with the register of deeds. The plats become effective upon being recorded and filed.

POINT OF BEGINNING - The starting point of the survey.

POLE - Unit of length and area. Also known as a perch or rod. As a unit of length, equal to 16.5 feet. As a unit of area, equal to a square with sides one pole long. An acre is 160 square poles. It was common to see an area referred to as "87 acres, 112 poles", meaning 87 and 112/160 acres.

POWER OF ATTORNEY - An instrument in writing whereby one person, as principal, appoints another as agent and confers authority to perform certain specified acts on behalf of the principal.

    Durable Power of Attorney - The Power of Attorney document contains the words, “this power of attorney shall not be affected by subsequent disability, incapacity or incompetence of the principal,” or similar words; may state that the power of attorney shall become effective upon the incompetence of the principal.
    Limited Power of Attorney - Power is limited to acts or items and time periods specified in the instrument establishing the Power of Attorney.
    Statutory Power of Attorney - The power of attorney document is drafted according to Wisconsin Statutes, 243.10, with or without the assistance of an attorney.

PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN - One of 35 north and south survey lines established as part of the Public Land Survey System (also called rectangular and government survey).

PRIORITY OF LIENS - The priority of liens is determined by the chronological order in which the lien documents are recorded, except for tax liens which have priority even over previously recorded liens.

PRIVATE CLAIMS - (French Claims) A claim to a tract of land which is based on the assertion that title thereto was granted to the claimant or predecessors in interest by a foreign government (before the territory was acquired by the United States); also, the land so claimed.

PROBATE - A legal process by which a court determines who will inherit a decedent's property and what the estate's assets are. Probate court is a part of the office of Clerk of Courts in Wisconsin. Final judgments are the court ordered disposition of property during probate proceedings.

PUBLIC LAND SURVEY SYSTEM - A system established in 1785 by the Federal Government, providing for surveying and describing land by reference to principal meridians and base lines. Also called the rectangular or government survey.

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RANGE - A strip of land six miles wide, extending north and south, and numbered east and west according to its distance from the principal meridian in the Public Land Survey System.

REAL ESTATE - Land, including all things permanently attached thereto, whether by nature or by a person; any and every interest in land.

REAL PROPERTY - The earth's surface extending downward to the center of the earth and upward into space, including all things permanently attached to it by nature or by people, as well as the interests, benefits, and rights inherent in real estate ownership.

RECORDING - The act of entering or recording documents affecting or conveying interests in real estate in the office of the register of deeds established in each Wisconsin county. Documents are recorded to protect the interests of persons involved and to provide constructive notice of rights and interests in land. Documents accepted for recording are time stamped, receive a unique document number, are indexed, the image captured and the original document is sent back to the returnee.

RECORD SERIES - Records that are kept together as a unit because they relate to a particular subject such as (1) real estate records, (2) personal property records organized under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), and (3) vital records such as birth, death and marriage certificates and military discharge papers.

RESOLUTION - A formal expression of the opinion or will of an official body or a public assembly, adopted by vote.

RESTRICTIONS - A limitation on the use of real property, generally originated by the owner or subdivider in a deed or a separate document, and/or subdivision plat. The purpose behind the restrictions is usually to maintain or enhance the value of the land and surroundings.

RIGHT OF WAY - May be an easement that is a right belonging to a party to pass over land of another. May also be public property as in the case of a road right of way.

RIGHTS & INTERESTS - Documents that explain, affirm or modify a party’s supposed rights and interests with regards to real property.

    First Refusal - A contract made for consideration where the grantor promises to grantee the first opportunity to purchase the property when it is offered for sale. Grantee has the right to accept, reject or counter the offer made by grantor.

ROD - See pole

ROOD - Unit of area usually equal to 1/4 acre.

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SATISFACTION - The discharge of an obligation by paying a party what is due on a mortgage, lien, note, contract or for a judgment ; the document acknowledging the payment of a debt, such as a satisfaction of a mortgage.

SECTION - A portion of a township under the Public Land Survey System. A section is approximately one mile by one mile and 640 acres. A township is divided into 36 sections.

STIPULATION - A material condition, requirement, or article in an agreement. An example is a Wisconsin Department of Commerce weatherization program required stipulation document where the grantee of rental property promises to make improvements to bring it into program compliance. The document may be attached to a deed or recorded separately. St. Croix County requires it to be a separate recording.

SUBDIVISION - A tract of land divided by the owner, known as the subdivider, into blocks, building lots, and streets according to a recorded subdivision plat, which must comply with state regulations and the local subdivision ordinance.

SURVEY - The process by which boundaries are measured and land areas are determined; usually performed by a land surveyor.

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TAX PARCEL DESCRIPTION - An abbreviated version of a legal description used for the purposes of identifying a tax parcel(s) in a tax roll or assessment roll. A parcel identification number (PIN) is assigned to uniquely identify that parcel from any other parcel within a given taxing jurisdiction. One or more tax parcels may be created from a single legal description. Also one tax parcel may be created from multiple legal descriptions. It is not to be confused with a "Legal Description" and should not be used in its place on any legal document.

TENANTS IN COMMON - A form of co-ownership by which each owner holds an undivided interest in real property as if he or she were sole owner. Each individual owner has the right to partition. Unlike joint tenants, tenants in common have right of inheritance.

TERMINATION OF DECEDENT’S INTEREST - A document providing constructive notice of the termination of the decedent’s interest in real property; the remaining joint tenant or survivor of the marriage then has full property rights. An informal method of probate established in chapter 867 of Wisconsin Statutes.

TITLE - (1) The right to or ownership of land. (2) The evidence of ownership of land.

TITLE INSURANCE - A policy insuring the owner against loss by reason of defects in the title to a parcel of real estate, other than encumbrances, defects, and matters specifically excluded by the policy.

TOWNSHIP - The principal unit of the Public Land Survey System. A township is square with approximately six-mile sides and an area of 36 square miles.

TOWNSHIP LINES - Lines running at six-mile intervals parallel to the base lines in the Public Land Survey System.

TRANSFER (STATUTORY) – Any instrument established by state law to transfer a fee simple, equitable, or other interest in real property. Generally used for informal probate.

    By Affidavit – A probate instrument used for transferring small estates, both personal and also real property when the value of the real property interest is $20,000 or less as per s. 867.03. The form PR-1831 is available online.
    Of Property Interest – A probate instrument used in place of a personal representative’s deed as per s. 865.202. The form PR-1818 is available online.

TRANSFER TAX - A fee required when a deed is recorded; the fee is based on the value of the property. The fee is calculated as $3 per $1000 of the sales price. The Wisconsin Real Estate Transfer Return must be completed and the proper fee calculated or the exemption number indicated if the property is exempt from the transfer fee. Whether the buyer or seller is to pay the transfer tax is often negotiated during the sale; if not, the grantor is liable as per s.77.22(1). This form must accompany the deed for it to be recorded.

TRUST - A legal entity created by a grantor for the benefit of designated beneficiaries under the laws of the state and the valid trust instruments.

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UCC - The Uniform Commercial Code as adopted in the state. Revised article 9 went into effect July 1, 2001 in Wisconsin.

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VARA - Unit of length (the "Spanish yard") used in the southwest. The vara is used throughout the Spanish speaking world and has values around 33 inches, depending on locale. The legal value in Texas was set to 33 1/3 inches early this century.

VARIANCE - A document evidencing permission to depart from the requirements of a zoning ordinance.

VENDEE - A buyer; often in a land contract.

VENDOR - A seller; often in a land contract.

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WAIVER - A document wherein the intentional or voluntary relinquishment of a known right is made.

WITNESS TREE - Generally used in the public land states, this refers to the trees close to a section corner. The surveyor blazed them and noted their position relative to the corner in his notebook. Witness trees are used as evidence for the corner location.

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Grothman & Associates,S.C. Land Surveyors GROTHMAN & ASSOCIATES, S.C.
P.O. Box 373, 625 E. Slifer
Portage, WI 53901
(608) 742-7788
surveying@grothman.com

© 2005 Grothman & Associates, S.C. All rights reserved.