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Sheriff's Deeds In Marion County (Indianapolis): One-Page Rule

On March 7, 2010, I provided a Sheriff's Sale Checklist - Marion County Illustration.  As noted, one of a foreclosing lender's tasks is to tender a sheriff's deed (click for local form) to the sheriff's office to perfect the sale bid.  Last August, the Marion County Sheriff's Office revised some of its sale rules and requirements.  Here is a link to the office's site on that issue:  Real Estate Rules for Attorneys.

Rules.  With respect to the sheriff's deed form, the Marion County Sheriff's website says:  

Notices, deeds clerk returns and bid forms must be on 8 ½” by 11” paper.  All forms must have the Sheriff’s file number in the upper right corner.  Documents without the file number in the upper right corner will NOT be processed.  All forms MUST be completely filled out with accurate information.  Deeds must be one (1) page.  If second page is needed, the legal description may be an attachment, BUT the street address and parcel number must be spelled out in the area where deed indicates legal description is attached.  Deeds without the signature/notary page on front will NOT BE SIGNED!

As noted, deeds should be one page.

Rejection.  In the past, absent a very short legal description of the property, our firm routinely tendered sheriff's deeds with the legal description attached as an exhibit.  At a sale last month, for the first time the sheriff's office rejected our deed and required us to provide another deed with the legal description contained on its face.  The one-page rule was enforced.  (Lesson learned.) 

Rationale.  In speaking with the sheriff's office, I was told that the primary reason for the one-page requirement is to ensure that legal descriptions don't get misplaced or lost.  The goal is to protect the integrity of the deed.  Since Marion County processes 400-600 deeds for each month's sale, the one-page guideline is understandable.

Exception?  In order to squeeze our legal on last month's deed, my secretary had to work some magic with fonts, margins, etc.  She got it done, and the sheriff evidently has accepted our revised deed.  But what if the legal simply is too long to insert into a one-page deed?  I'm informed by the sheriff's office that the incorporation of an exhibit will be acceptable in those instances.  The rules above support this, but note that the street address and parcel number must still be typed on the face of the deed. 

Plan and discuss.  In the end, common sense should and likely will prevail, but clearly the "default" (preferred) approach by the Marion County Sheriff is to limit the deed to one page, without any attached exhibits.  Because local rules, customs and practices prevail in each county, I recommend that you or your lawyer contact the county sheriff's offices in advance of your sales to ensure you are complying with sale details, such as the form of deed.  In the meantime, please email me or post a comment with regard to your experiences with attaching legal descriptions to sheriff's deeds in counties other than Marion, thanks.