A Quitclaim Deed is a legal document property owners use to easily transfer real estate ownership from one person (or entity) to another.
This means that the grantee (person receiving the property) isn’t protected and won’t get full ownership if there are any outstanding liens or other legal claims on the property.
As a result of this risk, quit claim deeds are usually only used when transferring property between two people who trust one another, such as family members or friends.
- 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 document where the grantor (owner/seller) transfers their ownership rights of a piece of real property to the grantee (purchaser). Without this document, an individual may not be able to record and prove their ownership of the property.
A simple quitclaim deed should identify the following essential elements:
- Grantor: the name and mailing address of the individual(s) or corporation who currently owns the property and will be transferring the title
- Grantee: the name and mailing address of the individual(s) or corporation who will receive the title and become the new owner
- Consideration: how much, if anything, is being paid for the property
- Legal Description: a land description in words that identifies a particular piece of property
- 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 (note that depending on your state’s laws, the grantee may have to sign)
- Witnesses: the individuals 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
As a reference, you might see a quitclaim deed misspelled as “quit claim deed” or “quick claim deed,” but both of these are incorrect.
Quitclaim Deed vs Warranty Deed vs Special Warranty
Unlike quitclaim deeds, some deeds offer protection and warranties for the grantee. The most common types are special warranty and general warranty deeds, where the grantor has the right to transfer ownership of the property and warrant against certain defects in title.
Here is a table comparing the three most common types of property deed transfer forms:
|Quitclaim Deed||Special Warranty Deed||General Warranty Deed|
|Warranties||NO warranties as to the quality of title||Warrants against ONLY those defects caused by the current grantor||Warrants against ALL defects, even those not caused by the current grantor|
|Period Covered||None||Only when the current grantor owned the property||The property’s entire history|
|Most Common Use||When little to no money is exchanged - estate plans, divorce, fixing title defects||When money is exchanged - trusts, fiduciaries, tax sales, commercial real estate sales||When money is exchanged - purchasing a home, obtaining a mortgage|
And here are three less common (but still important) types of property deed transfer forms used in more specific scenarios:
Grant Deed – A grant deed generally used in place of a California quitclaim deed when transferring property to non-relatives in that state. The grantor guarantees they haven’t transferred the title to anyone else and the property has no undisclosed liens or encumbrances. Note, however, that it doesn’t provide any warranties.
Bargain and Sale Deed – A bargain and sale deed used in certain states, such as New York and Washington. The grantor has the title to the property but doesn’t provide any warranties or guarantees that the property is free of claims.
Lady Bird Deed – Also called an enhanced life estate deed and primarily used in states like Florida and Texas. A lady bird deed allows the grantor to retain a life estate with very few restrictions while also receiving certain tax benefits.
Make sure to review all of the different types of deeds in detail to ensure you have selected the right one for your real estate transfer or sale.
What is the Purpose of a Quitclaim Deed?
The purpose of a quitclaim deed is to transfer property ownership to another party. In a quitclaim deed, the grantor only transfers whatever title or ownership, if any, they have at the time of the transfer.
The grantor doesn’t provide any warranties as to the quality of the title.
Although this document provides no promises regarding ownership or title, many states have an implied good faith presumption that the grantor is not aware of any other owners or conflicts. Additionally, some states have an implied good faith assumption that the grantor is free to transfer the title.
How Does a Quitclaim Deed Work?
A quitclaim deed form conveys ownership, if any, the grantor has in the property. Here are the different types of ownership it might convey:
- Sole Ownership – owned entirely by one party
- Joint Tenancy – owned equally by two or more people with right of survivorship (if one dies, ownership passes to the surviving person), and each person must agree to sell their interests in the property
- Tenancy by the Entirety – a joint tenancy between a 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 interests in the property
When to Use a Quitclaim Deed
A quitclaim deed form only transfers the ownership of the property. If the grantor has a mortgage on the property, they’re still responsible for that mortgage.
Property owners mostly use quitclaim deeds for intra-family transfers, estate planning, or to cure a title defect.
Here are some examples:
- Divorce: one spouse releases claim to the home after a divorce settlement
- Marriage: spouse wants to add their new spouse to the title
- Chain of Title Defect: title insurance company finds someone with potential interests in the property and asks them to waive those interests
- Title Defect: fix any errors such as misspelled names or other clerical mistakes
- Family: parent grants title to a child or transfers property between siblings
- Estate Planning: person transfers property to a trust
- Business: transfers between parent companies to subsidiaries
- Public Auction Sale: tax/public auction sale where buyer assumes the risk of a defective title
What to Include in a Quitclaim Deed
There are several things to consider when creating your quitclaim deed form.
First, it should include the following:
- The names and addresses of the grantor and grantee
- The name and address of the preparer
- Where the property is located, including a legal description
- When the parties executed the deed
- Why the property is being transferred (in exchange for consideration)
- How the property is being transferred (quitclaim)
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 to 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
- Mailing Address: where to return the original deed once recorded
- Mineral Rights: the grantor can reserve all or a portion of any remaining interests in the property’s subsurface oil, gas, or other mineral rights
- Spousal Acknowledgment: if the grantor’s spouse isn’t signing the deed and the property is a homestead, the spouse should sign an acknowledgment waiving any current or future interests in the property
- Taxpayer: the taxpayer’s name and address for tax bills
Certain words on a quitclaim deed form may inadvertently create warranties. Before signing, check your state’s laws and regulations regarding exactly what these words mean.
How to File a Quitclaim Deed
You should file a quitclaim deed with your local recording office to give public notice and prioritize the grantee’s claim of ownership.
A quitclaim deed allows you to officially record your ownership of the property.
While filing with the local county clerk does not guarantee a perfect title, it does create a public record of your claim to ownership.
Check with your local county clerk regarding additional forms you might need to file with your quitclaim deed and ask about taxes or fees associated with your transfer.
Quitclaim Deed Sample (Word & PDF)
Below you can find a sample of what a quitclaim deed typically looks like:
If a quick, simple transfer of real property is all you need, you may be able to use a do-it-yourself quitclaim deed.
Our blank, printable quitclaim deed template allows an owner to transfer and quitclaim their right and title to real property to a new owner. It also provides for exceptions such as easements or life estates.
If you would rather have step-by-step guidance, use our document builder that walks you through the process of creating a quitclaim deed that is unique to your situation. Our builder assists you through the document creation process in a simple way that makes sense and saves time.
How to Write a Quitclaim Deed
Before filling out your quitclaim deed form, write your state at the top of the document.
Legal Templates suggests you use a state-specific quitclaim deed form as a best practice and we provide these forms for all states.
Step 1 – Fill in Preparer and Recipient Name and Address
1. Preparer. Provide the full name and address of the individual preparing or writing the quitclaim deed. The preparer may be the grantor, grantee, or a third party.
2. Recipient. Write the name and address of the person who should receive the recorded deed and tax statements after recording.
Step 2 – Enter Effective Date and Grantor(s) Details
3. Effective Date. Fill in the full name of the grantor(s), the current owner of the property. Indicate if the grantor(s) is an individual, individuals, a married couple, or an entity (i.e. corporation, LLC, partnership, or trust).
4. Grantor(s). Provide the mailing address for the grantor(s). If there is more than one grantor, provide just one mailing address for the purpose of receiving correspondence).
Step 3 – Fill in Grantee(s) Details
5. Grantee(s). Write the full name of the grantee(s), the individual or entity that will become the new owner. Indicate if the grantee(s) is an individual, individuals, a married couple, or an entity (i.e. corporation, LLC, partnership, or trust).
Step 4 – Identify Transfer and Property Details
6. Consideration. Enter the amount of money paid as consideration for the property transfer. If the property is transferred as a gift, you can specify a nominal amount, such as $10 as consideration.
7. County and State. Write the county and state where the property is located. Specify whether or not the property is in an unincorporated area.
8. Legal Description. Provide a legal description of the property. A legal description is a geographical description commonly identified by a government survey, metes and bounds, or lot and block. You can find the legal description in the property’s deed or through the county assessor.
Step 5 – Choose Ownership Option and Exceptions
9. Ownership. Specify how the new owners will hold the property. We have included the most common forms of property ownership on our form.
10. Exceptions. State whether or not there are any exceptions to the property, such as an easement (reserve right to continue using a portion of land), covenant, reserve life estate, or mineral rights.
Step 6 – Identify Homestead Option
11. Homestead. Check whether or not the property is the grantor’s homestead. Generally, a homestead is a person’s primary residence.
Step 7 – Choose Transfer Tax Option
12. Transfer Tax. Specify whether or not the transfer of the property is exempt from transfer tax. Refer to your state or local laws as many states provide various exemptions from transfer tax, such as transfers between parent and child. If not exempt, specify the amount of transfer tax that the grantor or grantee will pay for the transfer.
Step 8 – Identify Witnesses
13. Witnesses. Depending on the state where the property is located, one or two witnesses need to sign the deed. Check your local state law to see if any witnesses need to sign.
Quitclaim Deed FAQs
Some states have homestead requirements where a spouse cannot sell or transfer the homestead without the signature or acknowledgment of the other spouse.
In addition, spouses may have inheritance, or dower and curtesy rights, if the property is community property. If only one spouse is the grantor and the one signing the quitclaim deed, the other spouse should sign an acknowledgment waiving and releasing any possible residual rights.
After the grantor transfers property ownership, the obligation to pay the property taxes falls to the grantee, and the appropriate government entities will mail tax bills to the address on the deed.
Some states impose a real estate transfer tax on property transfers. The transfer tax is usually a small percentage of the consideration or purchase price. However, most states provide various exemptions from the transfer tax, such as transfers between parents and children.
Other taxes such as federal income tax, gift tax, or inheritance tax may also accompany a quitclaim deed transfer. Consult a tax lawyer or certified public accountant to learn more.