22.04 Wild Instruments

22.04.1

In General

In real estate law, a "wild instrument" is defined as any instrument appearing in the chain of title in which the first party (grantor, mortgagor, etc.) has no record interest in the subject property.

Generally, if the grantor is a stranger to the chain of title, the instrument will not give constructive notice of its existence. However, the actual notice of its existence will put anyone on notice that said first party may have a legitimate interest in the subject property under an unrecorded instrument, contract to purchase, or may be claiming title through adverse possession.

22.04.2

Necessity To Investigate Wild Instruments

The existence of a "wild instrument" in the chain of title cannot be ignored and its origin or reason must be fully investigated and ascertained before a title commitment is issued. A wild instrument can be disregarded if:

  • The time elapsed since its recording is substantial.
  • The fact that the grantee of the instrument has never been in possession of the property or has never paid any taxes on the same.
  • A corrective instrument was subsequently recorded amending the mistake (if that was the case).

Any thorough investigation of the origin of the "wild instrument" may produce the existence of one of the following:

  • A break in the chain of title as a result of an unrecorded instrument.
  • A party claiming title through adverse possession.
  • A party claiming an interest in title as an heir of a former owner of the property.
  • A mistake arising from a misdescription of the land intended to be conveyed.