Quitclaim Deed: Everything You Need To Know
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What Is A Quitclaim Deed?
A quitclaim deed can be one of the simplest methods of transferring real property to a new owner. In other words, the property owner (also known as the grantor) can offer this type of deed and transfer the entire interest in the property to the recipient, or the grantee. Although there may be money is involved in this transaction, there’s no requirement. Also, there’s no need for title insurance and no title search is conducted to verify the property owner. As such, a quitclaim deed is often used for transferring properties between spouses or other family members. It is sometimes colloquially called a “quick claim deed” because it’s a fast way to execute a property transfer.
Whereas a general or even a special warranty deed offers some protection for the grantee, the quitclaim deed offers the property “as-is.” What this means is that there aren’t any warranties such as claims that the title is free and clear of restrictions or liens. That’s why it’s important to learn how quitclaim deeds work before you get property this way.
What Is A Quitclaim Deed Used For?
In addition to transferring property between family members, a quitclaim deed can be useful for removing a name from a property title and clearing a title defect. So how does a quitclaim deed work in each of these scenarios?
Transferring Property Between Family Members
Quitclaim deeds are one of the most popular ways to transfer property to family members since it’s often the case that no money is involved and both parties trust each other. For example, a quitclaim deed may be used if your aging parents want to transfer their real property to you, or if your brother decides to divide up his portion and give you some of it. Some choose to place their real estate property in a family trust, so a quitclaim deed is a legal document that can be used in this scenario when it’s transferred to the future owner.
Quitclaim deeds are also used when an owner gets married and wants to add a spouse’s name to the title or deed, or when the owners get divorced and one spouse’s name is removed from the title or deed.
Removing An Ex-Spouse From A Property Title
In the event of a divorce, grantors can remove their ex-spouse’s name from the property deed or title. A title insurance company may want to ensure that the potential owner (in this case, an ex-spouse) doesn’t try to claim ownership in the future.
However, both you and your ex-spouse will continue to have your name on the mortgage even if you file a quitclaim deed. If you wish to have the name of your ex-spouse removed, you’ll need to refinance the mortgage.
Clearing A Title Defect
Perhaps you found out that there’s a cloud on a property’s title. What this means is there is an unreleased lien, claim or document that could make the property title seem invalid. In this case, you can initiate a quitclaim deed, which will release the interest in the property so that you’ve essentially cleared your title.
Some examples of a cloud on a title include a foreclosed property where the owner who defaulted on their mortgage might have claims to their home, or there are probate issues. That is, documents could be lost over time, which can raise questions about who legally owns the property. Having the previous owner sign a quitclaim deed can ensure that the new owner has complete title.
What Are The Limitations Of A Quitclaim Deed?
While a quitclaim deed can be a quick and easy way to transfer property, it’s not always the best option. As we mentioned above, this type of deed doesn’t guarantee that there aren’t liens or interests that could affect the property. If you find out that there are other people or entities with a claim to the property, there could be legal and financial implications. It doesn’t even necessarily guarantee that the person doing the quitclaim has a right to the property. They’re just granting you whatever ownership they have (or don’t).
In some states, transferring the title to a new owner can trigger tax payments, even if you’re simply gifting property to someone. This is where it’s best to speak with a real estate professional to see whether a quitclaim deed is the best choice, or whether you can add verbiage that can exempt the grantee from the transfer tax. Consult a real estate attorney and/or tax professional in your area.
What Is A Quitclaim Deed Form?
A quitclaim deed form is a legal document that puts in writing that the grantor releases their ownership rights of a property to the grantee. Typically, these forms will have:
- The grantor and grantee’s name
- The legal description of the property
- How much is being paid for the property (also known as the consideration)
- The parcel number (assigned by your local tax assessor)
- The name of the person preparing the document
- The names of any witnesses overseeing signing of the document and
- The notary public’s signature
You can typically find free templates online – though, to be sure, you can consult an attorney before signing the form to ensure it has all necessary information and is appropriately formatted in your area. Once complete, you’ll need to register it with the county clerk’s or county recorder’s office. In addition to consulting a legal professional, it’s also a good idea to check with your local county office to make sure you’ve complied with their rules and regulations.
Once the quitclaim deed is signed by the grantor and accepted by the grantee, it’s considered legal and effective. However, some counties in the U.S. require that the grantee sign as well – again, at your local office.
The Bottom Line
A quitclaim deed can be the most effective way to transfer property, remove a grantor’s name or fix a cloud on the current title. If you’ve carefully assessed your options, and it makes sense to do so, then you’ll want to ensure that all steps are taken care of when filling out and filing your deed. However, if you’re transferring to or receiving property from someone you don’t trust completely, you might want to reconsider – it could prevent headaches in the future.
If you’re unsure what to do, we recommend speaking with a real estate attorney or tax professional to give you insight into the best course of action.