Absolute Title – Definition

Cite this article as:"Absolute Title – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated February 13, 2019, last accessed August 10, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/absolute-title-definition/.

Back To: Real Estate, Personal, & Intellectual Property

Absolute Title Definition

Absolute title or perfect title is the best kind of property title a registered proprietor or owner can have. It represents that the ownership interest is independent and free from lien, judgment, or attachment.

A Little More on What is Absolute Title

In law, business, and real estate, a property title search is a way of identifying ownership interests or historical events affecting a piece of real property. A title agent is a specialist who searches through public land records and investigates to ensure the property seller owns a legal interest in the real estate he or she is selling. If a person has absolute title of real property, he or she has full ownership of the land in the eyes of the law.

A person can have absolute title to a lease or leasehold estate (fixed period of ownership) and freehold (unlimited time length of ownership) properties.

For a person to be granted absolute title, the property must be certified at the local real property registry (register of deeds), which is a government office that records land sales and transfer of ownership.

References for Absolute Title

Academic Research for Absolute Title

  • The Story of Mortgage Law, Chaplin, H. W. (1890), Harvard Law Review, 1-14. Chaplin discusses the journey of the legal recognition of mortgages in America and the contractional arrangements of land ownership. More specifically, the author believes that the mortgage’s estate in land is difficult to define. Part of this is due to the use of false statements and the misleading of the deed, by having “fictions” that say one thing but mean other. Chaplin talks about absolute ownership of land that is always subject to a charge for “taxes, for annuity, for a mechanic’s lien, for debts of an owner deceased.”
  • Pre‐registration title deeds. Part 1: The legal issues of ownership, custody and abandonment, Ward, K. T. (1995). Journal of the Society of Archivists, 16(1), 27-39. In this paper, Ward documents the results of research and investigation into the legality issues dealing with the treatment of “pre-registration title deeds.” The author found that ownership and custody matters were underlying problems that needed careful examination with full comprehension before assessing the results of conveyancing, which is the transferring of property from one to another.
  • Absolute Title Financing in Commercial Transactions, Davies, I. (1985), Anglo-American Law Review, 14(1), 71-95. Davies discusses England’s usual process of title retention. The author believes, in theory, the English mortgage is a transfer of land to a specific contractual clause which permits “retransfer or redemption” of the area when the debt for the property gets paid. Davies believes the credit and financing agreements, along with the sellers holding on to the title stipulations are the fundamental characteristics of the law governing bankruptcy and position of unsecured creditors.
  • Title by Adverse Possession, Ballantine, H. W. (1918). Harvard Law Review, 32(2), 135-159. Ballantine explains how unless government grants otherwise, possession is absolute root of all titles. The author describes how title deeds are historical documents showing proof that rights transfer upon possession of land. Ballantine talks about the statute of limitations when it comes to property ownership, stating that under the law it has become a regular allowance for conveyancing or title research only to go back 40 years — not acknowledging or taking into account any “ancient seisin” or age-old right to possession.
  • Life Estates with Power to Consume Rights of Creditors Purchasers and Remaindermen A Study of New York Real Property Law Sections 149-153, Whiteside, H. E., & Edelstein, M. S. (1930). Cornell LQ, 16, 447. This paper outlines three everyday situations in the ownership of real property when it is in question. Whiteside and Edelstein discuss that if the “life owner” has been given the power to use or get rid of any collected interest or earned income and not the creditors affected, they need to know the extent of the “life tenant’s” authority. The author, with attention to New York laws, shed light on the rights and powers of all the parties involved in such a situation.
  • Trust Deeds and Mortgages in California, Arnold, E. C. (1921). Am L. Rev., 55, 393.The author discusses how the need for security came as a direct cause of creating credit. When there is a small barter exchange of goods, collateral security has no purpose. Arnold explains how credit initially did not have an absolute title when property was offered as security. Creditors could ultimately keep the security forever but without the full ownership, could not get rid of it. Changes were later made to the system so that if a borrower defaulted, the creditor was legally authorized to sell the security.
  • The initiation problem in bankruptcy, Baird, D. G. (1991). International Review of Law and economics, 11(2), 223-232. Creditors of corporation debtors have a means by which to sift through claims against the borrowers’ assets under American bankruptcy laws. Claims are established differently than other processes of collecting debt when dealing with bankruptcy. In these cases, all claims against a debtor get considered at one time in a single place. Baird states that bankruptcy laws are arranged so that a group collective of creditors with claims against the same debtor are better off than for each creditor to proceed individually under nonbankruptcy laws.
  • LAW REFORM IN REGARD TO REAL ESTATE., Raymond, D. (1846). The Western Law Journal (1843-1853), 3(9), 385. Raymond writes about the falsehood of the common laws, not the government, in England at that time regarding what he considers as self-evident and natural law for when a person maintains a right and ownership of personal and real property. Raymond acknowledges that England’s common laws were established during a period, he calls the “twilight of modern literature and science, when scholastic philosophy…perverted the intellect of Europe.” The author claims it is impossible to create a “consistent” and “rational” justice system if it is based on a false idea about absolute ownership.
  • Bankruptcy. Life Insurance as an Asset. Act Making Beneficiary’s Interest Absolute as Constituting a Transfer, WMM. (1930). Virginia Law Review, 271-277. This publication of the Virginia Law Review addresses the question of whether making changes to a life insurance policy so that the beneficiary gets an absolute right to property falls under the constraints of the Bankruptcy Act. Two specific issues are discussed regarding the interest of (1) the insured’s property and transfer before filing for bankruptcy and (2) if by giving the beneficiary absolute rights, it is considered a transfer of ownership.

Was this article helpful?