Table of Contents
- The Definition: What is a Quitclaim Deed?
- When a Quitclaim Deed is Needed
- The Consequences of Not Using This Document
- The Most Common Uses for This Document
- What Should be Included
- Download a Free Quitclaim Deed Template
1. The Definition: What is a Quitclaim Deed?
A Quitclaim Deed (or Quit Claim) is a legal document where the Grantor (or owner/seller) releases his or her ownership rights in a piece of real property to the Grantee (or purchaser).
A simple deed should identify the following basic elements:
- Grantor: the name and mailing address of the individual(s) or corporation who currently owns the property
- Grantee: the name and mailing address of the individual(s) or corporation who will 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: 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 the document
- Witnesses: depending on the state, zero, one, or two witnesses who watch the owner sign the document
- Notary: a notary public who verifies that the signatures are authentic
Deeds should be recorded with the local recording office to give the public notice of and create a priority for the Grantee’s claim of ownership.
What’s the difference between a quitclaim, a special warranty, and a general warranty deed?
In a Quitclaim Deed, the Grantor only transfers whatever title or ownership, if any, that he or she has at the time of the transfer. The Grantor does not provide any warranties as to the quality of the title.
Other types of deeds may provide more protection and warranties for the Grantee. The most common types are a Special Warranty and General Warranty Deeds, which promise that the Grantor has the right to transfer ownership in the property and warrant against certain defects in title.
Here is a table comparing the three most common types:
|Quitclaim Deed||Special Warranty Deed||General Warranty Deed|
|Amount of Protection||Least amount of protection||Medium level of protection||Greatest level of protection|
|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 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|
Grant Deed – commonly used in California that states that the Grantor has not transferred title to anyone else and the property has no undisclosed liens or encumbrances, but does not provide any warranties. Other types of deeds include:
Bargain and Sale Deed – used in certain states such as New York and Washington that implies that the Grantor has title to the property, but does not provide any warranties
Lady Bird Deed – or enhanced life estate deed – specially used in certain states such as Florida and Texas that allows the Grantor to retain a life estate with very few restrictions while also receiving certain tax benefits
Need a one with more protection? Click here to learn more about and prepare a Special Warranty or General Warranty Deed.
As a reference, a Quitclaim Deed is known by other names:
- Quick Claim (although this is incorrect!)
- Quickclaim (also incorrect!)
Quitclaim Deed PDF Sample
The sample quitclaim deed below details an agreement between the grantor, ‘Alison W Barron’, and the grantee, ‘James J Duran.’ Alison W Barron agrees to release her ownership rights in a piece of real property to James J Duran for a sum of money.Quitclaim Deed
2. When a Quitclaim Deed is Needed
In some situations, all that is needed is a simple, quick transfer of property, without the time, expense and assurances of a Special Warranty or General Warranty Deed. Often with a Quitclaim, little or no money is transferred so any loss associated with a defect in title would be low, or the transfer is between family members and the risk of a title defect is low.
Liens, outstanding debts, or money owed can also be transferred with this document.
Although a this document provides no promises as to ownership or title, many states have an implied good faith presumption that the Grantor is not aware of any other owners or conflicts, or an expectation of good faith that the Grantor is free to transfer title.
What are the different types of ownership?
A Quitclaim Deed conveys whatever ownership, if any, the Grantor has in the property. Here are the different types of ownership it might convey:
- Fee Simple – owned completely by one person
- Joint Tenancy – owned equally by two or more people with right of survivorship and no right to sell interests
- Tenancy by the Entirety – a joint tenancy between a husband and wife
- Tenancy in Common – owned by two or more people with no right of survivorship and the right to sell interests freely
For more information on real property ownership interests, read this article from the American Bar Association.
3. The Consequences of Not Using This Document
Without a Quit Claim Deed, you may not be able record and prove your ownership to the property. While filing with the local county clerk does not guarantee or perfect title, it does create a public record of your claim to ownership.
Any title search of the property after the recording will include your Quit Claim Deed. And any deed filed after your recording will be junior to your claim.
You receive a Quit Claim Deed from Hansel for his house in the Hollywood Hills. On July 1, you record it with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk office. Two months later, Hansel gives Gretel a Special Warranty Deed for that same house in the Hollywood Hills.
Gretel files hers with the county clerk on September 15. However, because you filed your deed on July 1, if Gretel had done a title search on the property, she would have seen your claim to ownership. So Gretel does not have clean title to the house. Because Gretel had a Special Warranty Deed, Hansel will be responsible for clearing that defect in title – most likely by paying you a sum of money to grant a Quit Claim Deed to Gretel and release any claim you may have to that house in the Hills.
4. The Most Common Uses for This Document
Quitclaim Deeds are most often used 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 (A & B > B)
- Marriage: spouse wants to add his or new spouse to the title (A > A & B)
- Chain of Title Defect: title insurance company finds someone with potential interests to the property and asks them to waive those interests (A > C)
- Title Defect: removing “clouds” in title such as fixing a misspelled name or other mistake (A > A)
- Family: parent grants title to child, or transfer of property between siblings (A > B)
- Estate Planning: person transfers property to a trust (A > B)
- Business: transfers between parent companies to subsidiaries (C > Csub)
- Public Auction Sale: tax / public auction sale where buyer assumes the risk of defective title (B > C)
What are homestead rights?
A homestead is a dwelling or house and its adjoining land where a family resides. Some states have homestead requirements between a husband and wife where a spouse cannot sell or transfer the homestead without the signature or acknowledgement 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 signing the deed, the other spouse should sign an acknowledgement waiving and releasing any possible residual rights.
If the property is a homestead, both spouses should sign or acknowledge the deed.
What are the tax implications of a quitclaim deed?
Property taxes on the property must be paid by the legal owner of the property. If the Grantor owes back taxes on the property, they should be paid before executing a this document. After the transfer, the obligation to pay the property taxes falls to the Grantee, and tax bills will be mailed 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 be implicated by a Quit Claim Deed transfer. You should consult a tax lawyer or certified public accountant to learn more about how your personal taxes might be affected.
Be sure to check with your local county clerk regarding any additional forms that must be filed with your deed and any taxes or fees associated with your transfer.
5. What Should be Included
It should include the following:
- Who are the Grantor and Grantee, including their addresses
- What is the name and address of the preparer
- Where is the property located, including a legal description
- When was the deed executed
- Why is the property being transferred (in exchange for consideration)
- How is the property 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: are there 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 the Grantor continued use of the property until his or her 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 is not signing the deed and the property is a homestead, the spouse should sign an acknowledgement waiving any current or future interests in the property
- Taxpayer: the taxpayer’s name and address for tax bills
Certain words on a deed may inadvertently create warranties. Most Quitclaim Deeds include the words “quitclaim”, “release”, and/or “convey”. Be sure to check your state’s laws and regulations regarding exactly what these words mean before signing.
6. Download a Free Quitclaim Deed Template
If a quick, simple transfer of real property is all that is needed, a quitclaim deed can be used.
Remember, this document simply transfers whatever interest in the real property that the owner has – which could be nothing. As it does not include any warranties of any kind, it is usually used for transfers between family members or trusted parties.
Our free template on the left allows an owner to transfer and quitclaim whatever right and title to real property that he or she may have to a new owner. It also allows for exceptions such as easements or life estates.