Washington County, Nebraska Click for Blair, Nebraska Forecast

Register of Deeds

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


The register of deeds office makes no warranty or guarantee concerning the accuracy or reliability of the content of these pages or at other sites to which we link.

  • Where is the Register of Deeds Office located?
    The office is located in the Washington County Courthouse at 1555 Colfax Street, Blair, Nebraska.
  • Does the document need to be an original?
    The document being recorded must have original signatures except in the case of certified copies from certain courts and the Bureau of Vital Statistics for Death Certificates.
  • Must signatures be notarized?
    Yes.
  • What happens when a document is brought to the Register of Deeds Office for recording?
    There are a number of steps that each document goes through before it is returned to the filer.  It must first be determined whether the document is recordable and if correct fees are enclosed.  The document is given an instrument number, entered into the computer, indexed, information verified, proofed, scanned and returned to the customer.
  • Who keeps the documents?
    Once a document is recorded, it is returned to the filer. A scanned copy and hard copy are kept at the Register of Deeds office and a microfilmed copy is sent to the State Archives in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • How much does it cost to record a document?
    Recording fees are set by Nebraska Statute. (See the Recording Fees).
  • How far back do the records in the Register of Deeds Office go?
    The earliest records in the Register of Deeds office, transcribed by hand in elaborate manuscript, date back to 1857.  Among the early records are the Patent Deeds recorded after settlers acquired land from the United States government.
  • How is all that paper tracked?
    Currently copies of the images of all records back to 1857 are available on hard copy.
  • What information do I need to obtain a copy of my deed?
    Generally most documents can be located by simply giving us the book and page number of the document or after January 2013 - Instrument number.  Other information you may be requested to give are the legal description, name, and approximate recording date.
  • Can I get someone to do research for me?
    You can do research in our office using our public indexes or you can have a title company or attorney search for you.
  • Can I find out who owns a particular piece of property?
    All parcels of land in Washington County are listed in the numerical index along with the current owner of record.  A call or visit to the Register of Deeds Office with a legal description and book and page number will allow you to look at that information.
  • Are there liens against my property?
    The records in the Register of Deeds office will list liens such as mortgages, fixture filings, Deeds of Trust and Construction Liens.  State and federal tax liens are filed against an individual. But not all liens are filed in this office; you may wish to check with the Clerk of the District Court for other liens.
  • What is meant by "indexes"?
    An index is a system by which each real estate record is listed in a specific place that applies to a specific subdivision, or section, township and range.  This enables us to track the history of each parcel back as far as necessary.
  • How do I find information about easements on my property?
    You may come to our office and attempt to locate easements on a property by searching the indexes for your property.  Our records will show any easements that have been recorded in our office.  Some easements are also recorded on deeds and may not be easily located.  Easements are often difficult to find because many of them have not been recorded in our office.  The services of a lawyer or abstract company may be required to sort through easement issues.
  • Can I find out how old my house is or get historical information about my house?
    Not in our office.  The Assessor's office may have some information regarding the date a house was built.
  • Where else can I look if I cannot find the information in your office?
    You may find records in the Clerk of the District Court concerning divorce records, County Court concerning probate records, and County Clerk concerning marriage records.  The Nebraska Department of Vital Statistics has records concerning birth and death records.
  • What was the sale price for a particular property?
    The County Assessor collects sales information which is used for property valuation purposes and is not open to public inspection.  The deed which is filed in the Register of Deeds’ office will indicate the documentary stamp tax based on the sale price of the property.
  • Can the Register of Deeds office tell me if I have a good and clear title?
    No.  You must enlist the services of a professional title company or abstractor who search records other than those in the Register of Deeds Office to determine if the title is clear.
  • Is everything handled in the Register of Deeds office public record?
    Everything recorded in the Register of Deeds Office is regulated by the Nebraska Open Records Act.
  • Can I get a copy of a birth or death certificate through the Register of Deeds Office?
    No. Copies of birth and death certificates may be obtained through the Bureau of Vital Statistics.
  • How do I record or get a copy of my military discharge?
    When military members are discharged, the military encourages the discharged member to record the military discharge papers, also known as DD214's, with the Washington County Clerk’s office.  If you choose to record your DD214, you may bring it into the Washington County Clerk’s office where it will become part of the permanent record.  There is no fee for this service.  These records are confidential.
  • What is a deed?
    A deed is an instrument through which a buyer obtains title to the property being sold. There are many types of deeds.  The most common type of deed is a warranty deed.
  • Do I need to record my deed?
    A deed should be recorded as soon as possible after the transaction takes place. Numerous legal problems could arise regarding the property if not recorded.  However, there is no time limit on recording deeds.
  • May I record a document for real estate for another county?
    No, each county records only the documents pertaining to the real estate in their county.
  • I want to take someone's name off my deed or change the names of the owners on my property. Can I change the deed?
    No.  Any change in ownership generally requires that a new deed be recorded. Exceptions to this rule may result either from court cases (i.e. divorces, foreclosures, probate, etc.) or from deaths where certain legal verbiage exists in the document and a death certificate has been recorded in our office. In these cases, the deed itself will not change even though ownership does.  Evidence of ownership exists in the combination of the related documents.
  • If I sell a portion of my land, do I get a deed for the remainder?
    No.  Records in the Courthouse show your original deed and the deed(s) for portions sold.
  • May I make out my own deed?
    Yes you may; however, we always recommend consulting an attorney regarding property transfers and changes, because minor changes in the wording of the document can completely change the legal meaning of the document.  The Register of Deeds office is a recording agency only; we cannot make out deeds or answer questions regarding legal matters.
  • If I want to write my own deed, do you have standard deed forms available?
    No. The Register of Deeds does not provide forms for documents to be filed. We can provide Forms 521 (Real Estate Transfer Statements) which must be completed and filed along with a deed.
  • What if I lose my deed?
    The primary evidence of ownership of land is not so much the deed itself as the recording of the deed.  If your deed is lost, a certified copy may be obtained from our office for a fee of $1.50 per page.
  • How long does it take to record a document?
    A document is generally recorded the same day it is received. It usually takes a day to complete the process of checking data entry, scanning, etc.  The original is then returned to the filer.
  • What types of documents can I file in the Register of Deeds Office?
    See the "Types of Documents Filed" section for a list of the most common types of documents recorded.  If you have a question as to whether you can record a particular document, please contact the Register of Deeds office for clarification.
  • Is it possible to obtain information about previous owners and the history of my home?
    The Washington County Register of Deeds’ records date back to 1857.  Therefore, you may wish to contact a title company in our area to search this information for you.  If you choose not to use a title company, you may visit our office, and we will direct you to the necessary books.  Everything recorded here is available to the public.  Our records only refer to real property.  Our records do not indicate when a house/building was constructed.
  • What information am I able to obtain by telephoning the register of deeds’ office?
    If you have the legal description of the property, we can give you current owner information.  Any lien searches or title searches can be done by a title company.  If you choose, you may visit our office and we will direct you to the necessary books.
  • How can I record my document?
    You can mail your document to our office, along with a check for recording fees made payable to the Washington County Register of Deeds, or you can bring the document into our office.
  • What are the requirements for recording a document?
    It must contain a blank space at least 2 and 1/2 inches by 6 and 1/2 inches in size at the top of the first page (NE.STAT.23-1503-01) for recording.  If this space is not provided, we will add a page to your document which will add an additional $6.00 to the cost of recording. It must be an original document with original signatures, properly signed and notarized.  It also must contain a legal description of the property.  Type or print must be legible, with a recommended font size no smaller than 10 point.  Recording fees will be collected at the time of filing.
  • How do I make changes to the title of my property?
    We are a recording office, and do not give legal advice.  If you have questions, please contact a real estate attorney or a title company.
  • What are the most common types of deeds?
    There are various types of deeds that are recorded in the register of deeds’ office.  Please seek the advice of a real estate attorney or title company for the type that pertains to your individual situation.
  • When is a Form 521 (transfer statement) required?
    We must have a completed Real Estate Transfer Statement Form 521 with every deed, land contract, and assignment of land contract recorded in our office.
  • How is my document identified in the register of deeds’ office?
    We identify documents using a book and page number, after January of 2013 documents are identified by instrument number.
  • How can I obtain copies of documents?
    You can obtain a copy of any document recorded in our office by coming into the office, or sending in a request for a copy along with your payment.  WE REQUIRE PAYMENT IN ADVANCE FOR ALL COPIES.
  • Can I obtain a copy of my recorded property survey?
    Very few surveys are recorded in the Washington County Register of Deeds’ office.  Surveys are usually filed in the Washington County Surveyor’s office.
  • I have paid off my mortgage.  What do I need to do?  Where do I get my deed?
    Once your mortgage or deed of trust is paid in full, the bank will record a Release or Deed of Reconveyance to release the lien.  Sometimes the bank will send the Release or Deed of Reconveyance to you to record.  To release the lien, it is very important to record the Release or Deed of Reconveyance in our office. Your deed, which is your ownership record, was recorded when you originally purchased your property.  This filing placed it on public record whether or not you obtained financing.  It should have been returned to you at that time.  If you have misplaced your deed, and would like a copy, a certified copy may be obtained from our office for a fee of $1.50 per page.
  • Do you have/sell real estate forms?
    No, we do not maintain real estate forms in our office, except the Real Estate Transfer Statement Form 521.  All other forms must be obtained from a commercial business or form supplier.
  • Where can I get a copy of a Birth or Death Certificate?

    Bureau of Vital Statistics
    State Department of Health
    Civic Center, Room 402
    1819 Farnam Street
    Omaha, Nebraska  68183-040
    (402) 444-7204

    Bureau of Vital Statistics
    State Department of Health
    301 Centennial Mall South
    P.O. Box 95007
    Lincoln, Nebraska  68509-5007
    (402) 487-2871

  • For questions regarding property taxes, please call the Washington County Treasurer’s office at (402) 426-6888.
  • For questions regarding property valuation information or homestead exemption, please call the Washington County Assessor’s office at (402) 426-6800.  For questions regarding marriage licenses or military DD-214, please call the Washington County Clerk’s office at (402) 426-6822.
2008 © WASHINGTON COUNTY, NEBRASKA, USA