Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Deed Definition:

A binding promise to do something or certifying a transaction which adheres to required legal rituals such as a seal or form of signature.

Related Terms: Real Property, Title, Defeasance


Under older common law, a deed had to be sealed; that is, accompanied not only by a signature but with an impression on wax onto the document (eg. pictured).

The word deed is also most commonly used in the context of real estate because these transactions must usually be signed and in writing.

"It seems that the substantial requirement of a deed was that it be intended by the executing party to be the most serious indication to the community that she or he really means to do what he is doing. In modern times, this idea of serious commitment continues and today a deed is a special type of contract or binding commitment or obligation and is regarded as the most solemn act that a person may perform which:

  • "Passes an interest, right or property;
  • "Creates an obligation binding on some person; or
  • "Amounts to an affirmation or confirmation of something which passes an interest, right or property."1


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