An Abstract is a memorandum containing concise summaries of all documents filed in the public records that affect a particular parcel of land. Organized in chronological order of recording, the abstract includes brief statements of the substance of each instrument of conveyance, every judicial proceeding, all liens, every encumbrance, and all other documents of public record that relate to or affect the particular parcel of land. In theory, an abstract of title for a specified
tract of land should begin with the initial transfer of the property from the sovereign and continue until the date of recording of the last instrument affecting title.
The sole purpose of an Abstract is to show information sufficient for a real estate attorney to ascertain if the title to a specific tract of land is valid and marketable. Additionally, it should give the examining attorney the ability to determine the status of the mineral title to the real property. The Abstract should be “clean” and not reflect information irrelevant to the title to the property.
What should be contained in an Abstract of title:
Instruments recorded in the County records that affect the title to the property listed in the Abstracts’ Certificate such as mortgages, deeds, tax liens, lis pendens, powers of attorney, affidavits, corporate papers and other pertinent documents.
Court proceedings of record which affect or attempt to affect the property being abstracted.
Civil, Federal or Criminal money judgments.
Mechanics and materialmens liens affecting the land being abstracted.
Federal Court matters filed in local courts affecting or attempting to affect the property. If a Federal Court sits in a particular County those records should also be shown in the Abstract.
Ad valorem taxes and Special Improvement District Taxes or assessments should be shown. The amount of taxes or assessments may be shown if required.
Construction and Form of an Abstract:
Historically Abstracts have been typed on legal size paper. However, with recent changes in technology and recording size requirements it may be more correct to use letter size paper when building an Abstract. The binding should be at the top of the page.
An Abstracts first page is the Caption page. This page contains the legal description of the property. The Caption page should set forth whether the Abstract is a complete Abstract or a supplemental Abstract.
In most instances it is required that a drawing or plat of the property setting forth dimensions, acreage, etc. be included in the Abstract.
If a proper survey is available and file marked it should be shown after the Caption page. All pages in an Abstract should be numbered sequentially at the bottom of each page with the caption page being number one.
This is the final page of an Abstract that sets forth what is being certified to. It also sets forth the final certification date. The certificate is not a guaranty of title. It merely certifies as to what is contained in the public record affecting title to the captioned property. The certificate will also set forth the Name Of the Abstract Company and its’ Abstract Company License Number. Additionally, the Abstractor will sign the Certificate and set forth his Abstracters License Number thereto. The abstract Companys’ Seal will also be affixed to the certificate.
Abstract Companies and individual Abstracters are regulated by The Arkansas Abstracters’ Board which was created by Act 1042 of 2007. This Act sets forth the licensing criteria for both
the Abstract Company itself and the individual person to compile and sign Certificates of Abstract on behalf of the Abstract Company itself and other regulatory information. The Act further sets forth who shall make up the Arkansas Abstracters Board and the term length they will serve. The Members of the Board are appointed by the Governor and Confirmed by the Senate.