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What is a legal description, and who can prepare one?

December 1, 2011 by admin | Category: Commercial, Residential

Black’s Law Dictionary defines a legal description as: “A formal description of real property, including a description of any part subject to an easement or reservation, complete enough that a particular piece of land can be located and identified.  The description can be made by reference to a government survey, metes and bounds, or lot numbers of a recorded plat. – Also termed land description.

Generally speaking, there are no restrictions on who can prepare a legal description for real property.  Basic Statute of Frauds principles simply require that the description itself and the transfer document must be in writing.  Those of us who have been in the profession have seen numerous legal descriptions that should never have been used to transfer property.  Those descriptions often require specialized skill to interpret them for placement of the boundary “on the ground”.  (If you would like to discuss these specialized skills, please contact a Flatirons surveyor at 303-443-7001.)  Many states, however, have limited the pool of persons allowed to create new legal descriptions.

InColorado, C.R.S. § 38-35-106.5 requires the name and address of the individual preparing a newly created legal description.  Failure to do so does not affect the validity of the description, however.

Although it has not been challenged or tested in any way, “the preparation of . . . descriptions . . . for the purpose of preserving the location or conveyance of any and all rights in real property and the subdivision thereof” is a land survey, and is therefore the practice of land surveying pursuant to Rule 6.5.1(d) of the Bylaws and Rules of the Colorado State Board of Licensure for Architects, Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors.  C.R.S. § 12-25-202 (6)(a)(VIII) defines the “preparation of . . . property descriptions that result from the practice of professional land surveying” as “professional land surveying”.  Based on the Rule and the Statute, only Licensed Professional Land Surveyors should be preparing legal descriptions in Colorado.

For assistance with your specific legal description needs, please contact a Flatirons surveyor at 303-443-7001.


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