Plats 101: Property Types & Legal Descriptions img

Plats 101: Property Types & Legal Descriptions

calender icon 4/25/2023    poster icon  Mark Goodman

We’ve been talking a lot about plats recently – covering a wide range of topics as they relate to platted land and title insurance. In this article, we are going to talk about property types and legal descriptions when it comes to plats. 

Legal Descriptions

Once a plat is recorded, the legal descriptions contained in the plat replace the prior, underlying legal description, whether it was metes and bounds or an earlier plat (and in some cases, it may be a combination of both).  A plat is an overlay that effectively wipes the slate clean and provides a fresh start for the legal description(s) it creates.

For example, if the affected land had a lengthy metes and bounds description and has since been platted as Lot 1, Block 1, then any conveyance following the recording of the plat will recite “Lot 1, Block 1,” and will not make any reference to the underlying, preceding legal description.

Abstract vs. Torrens Property

In many counties in Minnesota if affected land is a mix of abstract and Torrens property, the county will require that the land all be converted to Torrens for the purpose of the plat so if you do not have a mix of both, which can cause some difficulties in searching the land records and tracking matters that affect the whole of the plat.  Consider also the confusion and difficulties that can be caused when the boundary of a lot or block on a plat does not align with an underlying boundary between abstract and Torrens portions of the land.  This can add a wrinkle to the process, and so one should take into consideration the additional time and expense that will be incurred in converting abstract property to Torrens property.  The reluctance to plat land if it is a mixture of both abstract and Torrens arises out of the complexities inherent in tracking both the plat itself and documents that affect the plat.