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Article of the Month for January/February 2006 Printer friendly version

Recorders' Document Reference and Indexing Manual

by Ward Hanigan

Beginning around '94 or '95 the County Recorders' Association of California began publishing an annual reference manual for the express purpose of providing a uniform, statewide information resource to all 58 county recorders' offices in CA.

It's used to train their document examiners and indexing personnel on issues pertaining to document recordability and indexing procedures.

The 300+ page, 3 ring binder, "RECORDERS' DOCUMENT REFERENCE AND INDEXING MANUAL" is published annually, and has become a frequently referenced standard in all recorders' offices throughout California.

The manual has been designed and is used primarily as a procedural guide by the recorder's personnel. It does not purport to be a legal authority on the completeness or efficacy of any form and thus cannot be relied upon as a statement of law.

Simply put, the sample documents contained therein are for illustration purposes only and thus don't pretend to dictate sufficiency for actual use.

Recordable Document Examiners are responsible for determining the acceptability, but not the legal sufficiency, of all documents presented for recording. So the manual serves as a handy guide to quickly decide whether or not to accept a particular document for recording.

If a document isn't listed in the guide it'll probably be refused as non-acceptable for recording-unless the party requesting the recording can show a provision for doing so somewhere in the state's various codes.

Besides its main collection of sample documents, the reference also contains a variety of handy sections regarding basic document requirements, common recording code sections, an almost encyclopedic section on notarizing signatures, indexing rules and instructions, and a glossary of words, phrases and definitions.

Despite its annual cost of around $200+, you can imagine this tome can be quite useful if you're an habitué of the your local recorder's office. We seem to be using our manual at least once a month or more to solve some obtuse matter concerning the layout, content, etc. of some recordable document that we're creating for our online fillable forms library.

If, in the beginning, your contemplated use of the guide would be so sporadic as to not justify owning one, then you might just ask the recording clerk let you browse through theirs whenever you're in their office. And if your need for it grows, just contact the current Chair of the Document Reference Manual Committee listed in the front of the manual to order one.

Here's a sample page from the book.

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