A Quitclaim Deed is a legally binding document used to efficiently transfer property (real estate) from one person (or entity) to another person (or entity).
As a result of the risk of no title assurances, quitclaim deeds are usually only used in real estate when transferring property between two people who trust one another, such as family members, or to correct a mistake with the owner’s title to the property (cure a title defect).
- State-Specific Quitclaim Deeds
- What is a Quitclaim Deed?
- What is the Purpose of a Quitclaim Deed?
- When to Use a Quitclaim Deed
- How Does a Quitclaim Deed Work?
- What to Include in a Quitclaim Deed
- How to File a Quitclaim Deed
- Quitclaim Deed vs. Warranty Deed
- Quitclaim Deed Sample (Word & PDF)
- Quitclaim Deed FAQs
State-Specific Quitclaim Deeds
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
What is a Quitclaim Deed?
A quitclaim deed form (or quitclaim) is a legal real estate document for the grantor (owner/seller) to transfer ownership rights of a piece of real property to the grantee (purchaser).
With a quitclaim deed, the grantor (person transferring the property) transfers whatever rights and legal interest they have in the property. The grantor is only promising to give up their rights. There are no warranties as to the quality of the real estate title.
This means grantees (persons receiving the property) aren’t fully protected with quitclaim deed transfers. They won’t get full ownership if there is an outstanding lien or other legal claims against the property.
Without this document, the new owner may not record and prove their property ownership.
What is the Purpose of a Quitclaim Deed?
A quitclaim deed aims to quickly and easily transfer property ownership from one party to another.
Although this document provides no promises regarding ownership or title to the property, many states have an implied good faith presumption that the grantor is unaware of any other owners or conflicts.
Additionally, some states have an implied good faith assumption that the grantor is free to transfer ownership and title.
Keep in mind that a quitclaim deed transfers ownership of a property only. Therefore, if the grantor has a real estate mortgage on the property, they’re still responsible and liable for that mortgage.
When to Use a Quitclaim Deed
Property owners mostly use quitclaim deeds for intra-family transfers, estate planning, or to cure a title defect.
Here are some examples:
- Divorce: an ex-spouse releases claim to the home to the other formerly married party after a divorce settlement
- Marriage: spouse wants to add their new spouse to the title of the property
- Chain of Title Defect: title insurance companies find others with potential interests in the property and ask them to waive interest in the property
- Title Defect: fix any errors such as misspelled names or other clerical mistakes
- Family Member: parent wants to transfer title to a child, or a person transfers property between other family members like siblings
- Estate Planning: person transfers property to a living trust
- Business: quitclaim deed transfers between parent companies to subsidiaries
- Public Auction Sale: tax/public auction sale where the buyer assumes the risk of a defective title
Real property owners often use a quitclaim deed as a complementary document to a divorce or separation agreement.
How Does a Quitclaim Deed Work?
A quitclaim deed form conveys title and whatever ownership the grantor has in the property. Here are the different types of ownership it might convey:
- Sole Ownership – owned entirely by one party (individual or entity)
- Joint Tenancy – owned equally by two or more people with the right of survivorship (if one dies, ownership passes to the surviving person), and each person must agree to sell their legal interests in the property.
- Tenancy by the Entirety – a joint tenancy between a legally married couple
- Tenancy in Common – owned by two or more people (equally or in different percentages) with no right of survivorship and the right to individually sell their legal interests in the property
- Community Property – any property obtained by one spouse during a marriage is “community property” and owned by both spouses, currently recognized in ten states in the U.S.
What to Include in a Quitclaim Deed
There are several things to consider when creating your quitclaim deed form. Refer to these helpful tips below before you write your document.
A simple quitclaim deed should identify the following essential elements:
- Grantor: the name and mailing address of the individual(s) or entity who currently owns the property and will transfer ownership
- Grantee: the name and mailing address of the individual(s) or entity who will receive the property title and become the new property owner
- Consideration: how much, if anything, is being paid for the property
- Location: the city and county of the property
- Legal Description: a land description in words that uniquely identifies a particular piece of property (usually listed on the prior deed)
- Parcel Number: the number assigned by the tax assessor (usually listed on your property tax statement)
- Preparer: the name and mailing address of the person who prepared the document
- Signatures: the signature of the grantor and grantee and the date of the signatures. Depending on your state’s laws, the grantee may not be required to sign
- Witnesses: the individual(s) who watch the grantor and grantee sign the quitclaim deed. Note that depending on the laws of your state, there could be anywhere from zero to two witnesses required
- Notary: a notary public who verifies that the signatures are authentic
In addition to the above basic provisions, here are some additional terms you may want to include if they apply to your property:
- Easements: the grantor can reserve the right to continue using a portion of the land, such as access to a private road or fishing pond
- Encumbrances: any encumbrances (claims or liens) against the property the grantor is aware of
- Life Estate: the grantor can reserve a life estate interest in the property, usually for tax purposes, allowing them continued use of the property until their death
- Mineral Rights: the grantor can reserve all or a portion of any remaining interest in the property’s subsurface oil, gas, or other mineral rights
Certain words on a quitclaim deed form may inadvertently create warranties. Before signing, check your state’s laws and regulations regarding what these words mean.
How to File a Quitclaim Deed
You should file the quitclaim deed with your local county recorder’s office (see table below) to create an official public record of the transfer of ownership, give public notice, and prioritize the grantee’s claim of ownership.
While filing with the local county recorder or clerk does not guarantee a perfect title, it does create a public record of your claim to ownership.
Where to Record a Quitclaim Deed