In Minnesota, the detail of what’s included in a legal description is set by statute. The details of a legal description for a property matter because the legal description is used primarily to determine the location of a property so that it can be located and distinguished from other properties.
Legal Descriptions & Title Insurance
In the title insurance world, we occasionally work with professionals such as lenders and attorneys from other states who wish to apply their state rules to land in Minnesota. An example of this would be attempting to use a metes and bounds legal description for a property that is platted. Not only is the reversion to an underlying metes and bounds description considered invalid in Minnesota, but it could create a lot of confusion with the neighboring owners. This is not to mention that the purpose of recording a plat is to simplify the legal description, establish boundaries with the neighbors and avoid exactly the type of confusion that reverting to the underlying metes and bounds legal description would create.
Using Tax Legal Descriptions
We occasionally see either recorded or documents that are proposed to be recorded where the drafter used a description that came from the tax records. Often, the tax description of the property is an abbreviated description that was created by the county’s tax department that can be found on your tax statement or a GIS website. This is not the official legal description of the property and there could be elements of the official legal description that are missing. There are times when we have also found errors with tax legal descriptions (e.g. the incorrect inclusion or exclusion of land from the parcel).
One of the big reasons for getting the legal description correct is so that document is accepted for recording by the county recorder or registrar of titles. If the legal description is incorrect, the county will not accept the documents for recording.