Definitions To Documents Filed Within The County Clerk’s Office

ABSTRACT OF JUDGMENT - A public notice that a judgment against a person or company has been rendered in a court of law and that this judgment may be enforced against real property if the abstract of judgment is filed within the Real Property records. The abstract of Judgment gives a brief description of the monetary award rendered against the defendant of the case.

AFFIDAVIT - A sworn statement by someone or by several people swearing to a certain set of facts as indicated within the affidavit. The facts sworn to can either be a substantiation of some fact or a denial of something the affiant declares is not so.

AGREEMENT - An instrument filed in the Real Property records which is an agreement between two or more parties on a certain set of facts outlined within the document.

AMENDMENT - A filed document affecting a previously filed document on record. It is either changing the intent of the previously filed document or modifies certain aspects within it.

APPLICATION - An instrument applying for the achievement of some goal, i.e. an Assumed Name application or a Marriage License application. Its purpose will be found within the body of the application.

APPOINTMENT - An instrument filed in the Real Property records appointing an individual or a company to perform some task in behalf of another person or company. Generally this is the appointment of a substitute trustee to handle the performance of a foreclosure of real property. The task to be performed will be found in the body of the document.

ASSIGNMENT - An instrument filed affecting a previously filed document by assigning the secured rights to a lien, mortgage, or security instrument to another party by the party which had the original interest in the note. It is the transfer of an interest in a bond, mortgage, lease or other instrument by writing.

ASSUMED NAME - An instrument filed by an individual or corporation establishing the fact that they are planning to do business in the county under the assumed name declared on the document. It is an instrument which is good for ten (10) years from the date of filing or a shorter period of time if stated within the certificate. This instrument is commonly referred to as a DBA.

AWARD - An instrument filed which lists an award granted to a party by a court of law or a governing body. It can be an award of property, or monetary value, etc. The award is listed in the body of the document.

BILL OF SALE - An instrument which indicates that one party sold an item of real or personal property to another party for some consideration, whether monetary or otherwise. A Bill of Sale can be filed in the Real Property records if it affects real property or can be filed in the Miscellaneous Personal records if it affects the sale of a business or some piece of personal property.

BOND - Many businesses and occupations are required to file a bond with the clerk’s office before engaging in public contact. Common types of bonds are: Public Official’s Bonds (including deputies), Specific Performance Bonds, Bonds to Pay Liens of Claim, Public Weigher’s Bonds, and Public Warehouseman’s Bonds. Public Official’s Bonds are instruments which guarantee the performance of their official duty. Specific Performance Bonds are instruments which guarantee that a specific and certain task or job will be performed. Bonds to Pay Liens and Claims are instruments which guarantee the payment of any liens or claims filed in specific instances explained and laid out within the document. Public Weigher’s Bonds found in the MPR records are instruments which guarantee the accurate performance of a public weigher. Public Warehouseman’s Bonds guarantee the correct performance of a public warehouseman for his duties while performing his job as a public warehouseman.

CONDOMINIUM DECLARATION - An instrument filed within the Condominium records which creates a condominium as such. It describes the condominium, names it, generally has a map of the condominium with it, and gives a declaration of the covenants and conditions of its use. Within the record it will generally state what the purpose of the condominium is, i.e. residential use, and will create by-laws under which the condominium’s governing body will act.

CONTRACT - An instrument between two parties for the agreement of something spelled out in the document. One party is agreeing to perform some duty or give something of his in return for some consideration whether it be monetary or by other means. A contract, if valid, is enforceable by a court of law. A common contract found in the records is a contract for improvement of real property where the contractor is agreeing to perform certain tasks, i.e. add a room to a house, in return for the payment of the work by the owner of the real estate.

DD214 - Commonly referred to as a military discharge, it is an instrument filed in the MPR records and is a brief description of an individuals duties and awards while in the armed services. It gives the date and disposition of the individual’s discharge from the military.

DECLARATION - An instrument declaring a fact or set of facts. Example: the declaration of an Informal or common law marriage between man and wife.

DECREE - An instrument declaring a fact or set of facts. Example: the declaration of an Informal or common law marriage between man and wife.

DEDICATION - An instrument which dedicated something such as a road to the public or to an individual. These are usually dedications from a governing body for the use of public access, i.e. roads. But a dedication can affect many things besides public access and what is being dedicated will be found in the body of the document on file. Also, it is common to find dedications in the Map records, dedicating certain areas, such as roads and common areas to the public.

DEED - A written and filed instrument by which one party is transferring their rights of ownership in real estate to another.

DEED OF TRUST - An instrument by which the legal title to real property is placed in one or more trustees to secure the repayment of a sum of money owed to a person other than the trustee. It creates a lien against the property listed on the document, and is commonly referred to as a mortgage.

EASEMENT - An instrument which conveys the right of real estate from one party to another for their use and benefit. This is usually for the building or maintaining of roads, sewage lines, electrical lines, or other public or private utility used by the citizens of the county. This can include oil companies who have easements for the running of pipelines.

ELECTION CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION AND EXPENDITURE REPORT - A report filed in the MPR records by an individual or his campaign treasurer declaring the itemized contributions he has received for the purpose of running for a county elected position. It also itemizes the expenditures incurred during the campaign.

EXTENSION - An instrument filed which extends the use of the previously filed instrument. Example: a creditor extending the amount of time and terms under which a debtor must pay his debt to the creditor. The extension granted in such a document will be listed in the body of the extension.

FEDERAL TAX LIEN - Filed by the Internal Revenue Service which creates a lien against any property the tax payer might or does own in the county in which the lien is filed. The lien is created because the tax payer did not pay any or all of his federal income tax.

FINANCIAL STATEMENT - This is a lien placed against either real or personal property. If the lien is placed against personal property or assets, the financial statement will be filed in the UCC records. The document will list the property on which the lien is placed. If the document affects real estate then the financial statement will be filed in the Real Property records and will list the property which will have the lien against it. Financial statements are usually filed in the form of a UCC-1 listing the debtor’s name and the secured party’s name.

HOSPITAL LIEN - Filed in the MPR records which creates a lien against a person who has not paid any or all of the charges assessed him while receiving medical attention in a hospital.

INFORMAL MARRIAGE LICENSE - A marriage license created when a man and woman wish to declare that they are husband and wife and have been so since a dated they name on the license. It is commonly referred to as a common law marriage, and it is recognized in the eyes of the law as a marriage even though no ceremony occurred.

JUDGMENT - An instrument indicating that a court of law has rendered a judgment against a certain party. The document will list what the court rendered and to whom.

LEASE - An instrument conveying the use of property from one party to another but does not convey the permanent use of it. The lease will indicate what is being conveyed, to whom and for how long. Example: An Oil and Gas Lease, leasing from the property owner to a party desiring to use the land or minerals in the land.

LIEN - An instrument placing legal claims upon property to satisfy a debt.

LIEN AFFIDAVIT - A sworn statement of claims against property by a person, firm, or corporation for the purpose of satisfying a debt owed to the affiant.

LIS PENDENS - A notice that a suit has been filed in a court of law and that property owned by the defendant may be liable to a judgment, and title to the property may be permanently affected.

MAP - A document filed in a separate record within the County Clerk’s Office and sets aside certain property within the county for certain purposes. Example: a map of a residential subdivision which gives the size and description of lots and blocks in a subdivision. When a map is filed in the office of the County Clerk the property on the map becomes a subdivision.

MARRIAGE LICENSE - A document declaring that two people applied for and received a marriage license and did in fact get married on the date and by the person indicated on the license.

MATERIALSMEN’S LIEN - A legal claim created on real property by a person, firm, or corporation for materials furnished for improvements to be made upon property.

MECHANIC’S LIEN - A lien created on real property by a person or contractor for labor performed in making improvements upon the property.

MEMO - A memorandum from some party stating facts. Example: in Real Property, a memorandum of lease.


MODIFICATION - An instrument which affects a previously filed document and modifies the terms of that document. Example: modifications to a Deed of Trust.

MORTGAGE - An instrument which places a lien on property for the repayment of a debt incurred by the property owner, usually for the purpose of buying the property. It is commonly referred to as a Deed of Trust, however, there is no trustee in a mortgage as there is in a Deed of Trust.

NOTICE - An instrument notifying either specific persons or the general public that something is either taking place, going to take place or giving notice of certain facts already in place.

OATH - An instrument indicating that a person is giving a statement in which they will perform certain duties or meet certain obligations. Example: the oath given by an elected official promising that he will carry out certain duties for which he was elected.

ORDER - An instrument, generally issued by a court of law or a governing body, ordering a particular party or agency to perform a certain act. Example: Commissioners Court ordering the setting aside of real property for the use of the county.

POWER OF ATTORNEY - An instrument giving power from one person or company to another person or company to act or perform certain things in behalf of the issuing person or company. Example: power of attorney for the buying and selling of real estate.

PROBATE - The disposition of one’s estate after they have died leaving a will. The will is filed in the Probate Department of the County Clerk’s Office and the disposition of the will is handled in the probate courts. A certified copy of the will and filings affecting the will, i.e. the inventory of the estate, are filed in the Real Property records by the attorney or by the beneficiaries of the estate.

PARTIAL RELEASE - An instrument affecting a previously filed lien releasing some part of the lien, either a monetary amount of the lien or some property originally incumbered with the lien when it was filed.

QUIT CLAIM DEED - An instrument conveying the title of real estate from one party, who is quitting any of their claim that they do or might have in real estate to another party.

RATIFICATION - An instrument filed by a party who is confirming certain items or facts, or by giving formal approval or sanction to an action. Example: a governing body, such as church elders, giving formal approval of certain actions taken by others, or proposed actions by others.

RELEASES - An instrument which fully releases a previous incumbrance on real or personal property.

REINSTATEMENT AGREEMENT - An instrument which gives something back to a party who did or might have had something taken away. Example: when a person or property has been or was going to be foreclosed on and instead of foreclosing the parties came to an agreement and the debtor was reinstated with the property.

RESTRICTIONS - An instrument, filed in Real Property records which restricts pieces of real estate for certain purposes. The most common restrictions are residential restrictions which prohibit the property owners of the residential area from doing certain things, i.e. conducting business out of their homes. There are two (2) basic types of restrictions; Deed Restrictions and Subdivision Restrictions. Deed Restrictions are those which are put into the deed when the property is transferred from one party to another, restricting the new and any future owners from doing certain things on the real estate. Subdivision Restrictions are blanket restrictions filed by the developer of the subdivision prohibiting the new and future owners form certain things as indicated above.

REMOVAL - An instrument which removes a person’s privileges, responsibilities, or duties to perform a certain act. Example: the removal of a trustee to act as a trustee under the provisions of a particular Deed of Trust.

REVOCATION - An instrument which takes away certain powers or privileges of an individual who had been given certain powers or privileges. Example: the revocation of power of attorney where the person who had previously been given power has had that power revoked by the party who originally gave him the power.

RIGHT OF WAY DEED - An instrument which transfers the title of property to a party for the purpose of gaining access to property. A common right of way deed is granted to a governing body for the widening, construction and maintaining of a public road. Example: a right of way deed transferring property from one party to another for the purpose of gaining access to property where no access existed.

SMALL ESTATE AFFIDAVIT - A document which originates within the probate courts. Its purpose is to distribute the assets of a deceased party, whose estate is valued at less that $50,000. The assets of the estate are listed within the affidavit and are distributed to the distributees named within the document. A small estate affidavit, after approval by the probate court judge must, by state statutes, be filed within the Real Property records. A small estate affidavit does not transfer the title to Real Property.

STATE TAX LIEN - Filed by the State of Texas to create a lien against any real estate that the person who the lien is filed against does or might own in the county in which the lien is filed. The lien exists because there was a failure of the tax payer to pay all of his state, city or metropolitan transit authority sales taxes, or because he failed to pay in full his workman’s compensation tax.

SUBORDINATION AGREEMENT - An agreement between two parties, the debtor and the beneficiary of a new lien or a previously existing lien, which makes that lien secondary or inferior to another lien.

UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE - A secure financial transaction. Financial statements and other related statements filed with the Office of the Secretary of State and the county clerk. Example: mortgage, deed of trust, security agreement or other instrument executed to secure payment of a bond, note or other obligation.

WILL - An instrument created by an individual before his death directing how he wishes his estate to be divided after his death. For a will to take effect, the beneficiaries of the person’s estate, or someone representing an interest in his estate must file the will with the probate court’s division of the County Clerk’s Office. After it has been filed, the probate courts will take action on the distribution of the person’s estate, generally as he stated in the will.

WARRANTY DEED - An instrument conveying interest in real property from the grantor to the grantee, with the grantor warranting or guaranteeing the property against any person who may arise and give any claim to the real estate.