DUTIES OF THE REGISTER OF DEEDS
The most important function of the register’s office is the filing or recording of documents which affect the legal status of real and personal property. With regard to real property, these documents include deeds, deeds of trust (mortgages), financing statements called fixture filings under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), assignments, plats, court decrees, leases, liens, releases and many other instruments. With regard to personal property, the most important documents have been financing statements under the UCC and instruments relating to financing statements, such as amendments, continuation statements, assignments, releases and termination statements; however, most of these UCC documents are now filed with the secretary of state and not with the register. Powers of attorney are often recorded in the register’s office. Also, some official documents (county official bonds and certain official reports) are
recorded or filed in the register’s office. The register notes in a notebook the time and receipt of each document in the order received and maintains indexes of the records of the office. The register must be familiar with the requirements for acceptance applicable to each document. The prerequisites for acceptance of a document vary with the type of document. It is important to remember that a register is not a notary and does not have a statutory power to take acknowledgments, as do county clerks.
The register has important revenue functions, both for the collection of fees for performing the duties of the office (most of which are found in Tennessee Code Annotated § 8_21_1001) and collection of two state privilege taxes _ the transfer tax and the mortgage tax. Currently, the state realty transfer tax is 37¢ per $100 of value or consideration and the mortgage tax is 11.5¢ per $100 or major fraction thereof over $2,000 of indebtedness. The register must be knowledgeable concerning the many special rules and exceptions which apply to the collection of the realty transfer and mortgages taxes. The register must be knowledgeable about the required statements on instruments evidencing transfers of real estate or certain interests in real estate and instruments of indebtedness.
Other Matters. Since office management is an important component of the register’s duties, registers should know about personnel procedures and both state and federal laws. Also, the register should have a basic understanding of potential liability, including both personal liability and county liability, and of the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. Every county official should be familiar with the conflict of interest and disclosure laws applicable to their offices.