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One of the most important functions of the register's office is the filing or recording of instruments which affect the legal status of real and personal property. With regard to real property, these instruments include deeds, deeds of trust (mortgages), financing statements under the Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.), assignments, plats, court decrees, leases, liens, releases and many other instruments With regard to personal property, financing statements dealing with fixtures under the U.C.C. and instruments relating to financing statements, such as amendments, continuation statements, assignments, releases, termination statements and other instruments are involved. Powers of Attorney are often recorded in the register's office. Also, some official instruments (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 instrument in the order they are received and maintains indexes of the records of the office. The register must be familiar with the requirements for acceptance applicable to each instrument. 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 and collection of two state privilege taxes - the transfer tax and the mortgage tax. Currently the state realty transfer tax is 37 cents per $100 of value or consideration and the rate of the mortgage tax is 11.5 cents per $100 or major fraction thereof over $2000 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.

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 the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act.