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A deed is a written, signed (and often sealed) legal instrument used to grant a right. In its narrowest sense, a deed is any formal document that transfers interest or right of ownership (title) to an asset from one person to another. However, deeds can relate to transferences other than title to assets. Today, deeds are usually very formal and require the author’s signature and a number of attesting witnesses. Deeds are sometimes also referred to as agreements under seal, contracts by deed, specialties, or indentures. Deeds usually must be executed by the grantor in the presence of the prescribed number of attesting witnesses. This is known as being in solemn form. Deeds should also be properly acknowledged before a competent officer, most often a notary public.

Deeds are like contracts in that they require a mutual meeting of the minds and the agreement of at least two parties. However, a deed differs from a simple contract in that it is enforceable without consideration. Given the formalities involved (seals, witnesses, attestations, etc), there is no need for further assurances of the parties’ intentions through a requirement of consideration.