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SECTION 1931
Discharge of record of ancient mortgages presumed paid
Real Property Actions & Proceedings (RPA) CHAPTER 81, ARTICLE 19
§ 1931. Discharge of record of ancient mortgages presumed paid. 1.
The mortgagor, his heirs or any person having any interest in any lands
described in any mortgage of real estate in this state, which is
recorded in this state, or mentioned in a deed recorded in this state,
and which, from the lapse of time, is presumed to be paid, or in any
moneys into which said lands have been converted under a decree of a
court of competent jurisdiction, and which are held in place of such
lands to answer such mortgage, may present his petition together with an
official search of the recording officer in whose office the mortgage is
recorded, or a search prepared by a person duly licensed and admitted to
practice law in this state or by a title company duly incorporated and
authorized to transact business in this state showing assignments of
record, if any, to the courts mentioned in this article, asking that
such mortgage may be discharged of record.

2. Such petition shall be verified; it shall describe the mortgage,
and when and where recorded, or if such mortgage is not recorded that
the same may be adjudged to have been paid and to be no longer a lien
upon the lands therein described, and shall allege that such mortgage is
paid; that the mortgagee has, or, if there be more than one mortgagee,
that all of them have been dead for more than five years; or if such
mortgage has been assigned by an instrument in writing for that purpose
executed and acknowledged, so as to entitle the same to be recorded, and
such instrument of assignment has been recorded in the office of the
clerk of the county where the mortgaged premises or some portion thereof
is situated, and the assignee or assignees of said mortgage have been
dead for more than five years, such petition shall state such facts, and
no statement respecting the mortgagee or mortgagees or the names and
places of residence of their heirs shall be required; or if such
mortgagee be a corporation or association, that such corporation or
association has ceased to exist and do business as such for more than
five years; the time and place of his or their death, and place of
residence at the time of his or their death; whether or not letters
testamentary or of administration have been taken out, or, if said
mortgagee or mortgagees, or assignee or assignees at the time of his or
their death resided out of this state, whether or not letters
testamentary or of administration have been taken out in the county
where such mortgaged premises are situated; or if a corporation or
association, its last place of business; the names and places of
residence, as far as the same can be ascertained, of the heirs of such
mortgagee or mortgagees, or assignee or assignees; or, if such mortgagee
be a corporation or association, then the names of one or more of the
receivers, if any were appointed, or of the person who has the care of
the closing up of the business of such corporation or association, and
that such mortgage has not been assigned or transferred, and if such
mortgage has been assigned, state to whom and the facts in regard to the
same.

Provided, however, that if such mortgage has been duly assigned, by
indorsement thereof or otherwise, but not acknowledged so as to entitle
the same to be recorded, then it shall be competent for the court, at
any time within the period aforesaid, upon proof that all the matters
hereinbefore required to be stated in said petition are true, and that
the assignee of such mortgage if living, or his personal representative
if dead, has been paid the amount due thereon, to make an order that
such mortgage be discharged of record.

Provided, further, that in case of a mortgage which was recorded or
adjudged to have been paid and no longer a lien, more than fifty years
prior to the presentation of such petition, if the petitioner is unable
with reasonable diligence to ascertain the facts herein required to be
stated in the petition, other than the fact of payment, the petition may
set forth the best knowledge and information of the petitioner in
respect thereto and what efforts have been made to ascertain such facts,
and if the court shall be satisfied that the petitioner has made
reasonable effort to ascertain such facts, and that the same cannot be
ascertained with reasonable diligence, it may then, in its discretion,
proceed upon said petition as hereinafter provided.

3. Such petition may be presented to the supreme court in the county
in which the mortgaged premises are situated, or to the county court of
such county.

4. The court, upon the presentation of such petition, shall make an
order requiring all persons interested to show cause at a certain time
and place, why such mortgage should not be discharged of record. The
names of the mortgagor, mortgagee and assignee, if any, the date of the
mortgage and where recorded, and the town or city in which the mortgaged
premises are situate, shall be specified in the order. The order shall
be published in such newspaper or newspapers, and for such time as the
court shall direct. The court may also direct the order to be personally
served upon such persons as it shall designate.

5. The court may issue commissions to take the testimony of witnesses
and may refer it to a referee to take and report proofs of the fact
stated in the petition. The certificate of the proper surrogate or
surrogates, whether or not letters testamentary or of administration
have been issued, shall be evidence of the fact; and the certificate of
the clerk of the county or counties in which the mortgaged premises have
been situate, since the date of the said mortgage, shall be evidence of
the assignment of such mortgage, or of a notice of the pendency of an
action to foreclose such mortgage, and of such other matters as may be
therein stated; or if a notice of the pendency of an action to foreclose
such mortgage has been filed, then his certificate that such mortgage
has never been foreclosed. Unless the allegation of payment shall be
denied, and evidence be given tending to rebut the presumption of
payment, arising from lapse of time, such lapse of time shall be
sufficient evidence of payment. Upon being satisfied that the matters
alleged in the petition are true, the court may make an order that the
mortgage be discharged of record.