A Quit claim deed form is an official document used to transfer ownership, interest, or rights to the property from one party (grantor) to the other (grantee). A quit claim deed does not guarantee total or actual, or legal ownership of the grantor.
A quit claim deed form does not offer protection to the grantee, and as a result, he or she has little or no legal resort against the grantor, if ownership problems arise in the future. Due to this fact, quit claim deeds are normally used to convey ownership or rights to property between parties that are familiar and trust each other such as family members. The quit claim does not guarantee the following;
- The grantor’s legal ownership of the property title
- The grantor’s legal rights to transfer ownership of the property
- Existence of claims or liens against the property in question
- Existence of encumbrances such as zoning laws restricting the utilization of the property or an easement that permits hunters onto the property
What is the Purpose of Quit Claim Deed
The quit claim deed form releases or conveys the grantor’s interest or ownership rights without declaring the nature of the interests or rights and with no warranties. It certifies that the grantor “quits” any property rights or “claims,” hence the name quit claim deed. However, once the quit claim deed form is signed and issued, it prevents the grantor from claiming to have interest in the property in the future.
When a simple, quick transfer of property is needed, a quit claim deed is sufficient. Simple in that there are no expenses, assurances and it takes less time to execute – contrary to the transfer of ownership with a general or special warranty deed. When conveying ownership or interest using a quit claim deed, the risk of a title defect is reduced for little or no money is transferred during the transfer (non-traditional sale) – this being the reason why it is recommended for transfers between family members. Quit claim deed forms are faster than other methods of conveying property.
Quit claim deed forms are not limited to the transfer of property ownership; they can be used to convey outstanding debts and liens.
Even though there is no title search or title insurance (promises) used with a quit claim deed form, most states award the grantor an implied benefit of doubt that he or she is conveying the ownership or interest with good faith and is unaware of other ownership rights, conflicts of interest in the property at hand. However, other parties with ownership rights to the property should sign the quit claim deed to ensure the grantee has complete ownership. Each state has its distinct quit claim deed requirements. The common scenarios where a quit claim deed form is used include;
- Transfer of property, property ownership, or rights among family members, for example, parent to child.
- To fix title defects, which are often due to incorrect public errors, spelling mistakes, boundary or survey disputes, etc., when transferring property.
Quit Claim Deed Forms by State
Quit Claim Deed vs. Warranty Deed vs. Special Warranty
Property title (ownership) can be transferred from a grantor to a grantee through different deeds. The most common deeds are warranty deeds, special warranty deeds, and quit claim deed forms.
We will look into how these three deeds differ. These deeds are distinguished by what guarantees or warranties the grantor is expected to offer during the transaction – each deed has a different level of warranty.
General warranty deed
A general warranty deed is one where the grantor guarantees the entire history of the property. Among the three types of deeds, a general warranty deed has the highest grantor liability. The grantor guarantees that they own the property free and clear – there are no other parties that can claim the property. This is inclusive of the time period when the current grantor was not the titleholder of the property. It is used when there is an actual physical exchange of money, for example, when obtaining a mortgage or buying a home.
Special warranty deed
A special warranty deed is one where the seller/grantor of the property warrants against defects in the title that occurred during the period the current grantor held the title (owned) the property. It offers the grantor more leeway than a general warranty deed and is often used in transactions where money is exchanged, such as sale and purchase of commercial real estate, tax sales, trusts, foreclosures, and forced sales meant to settle debts. The grantor is not liable for defects prior to his or her ownership.
Quit claim deed
In a quit claim deed form, as earlier stated, the grantor offers no promises for defects in the title during and before their ownership term. It is recommended for property ownership transactions where money will not be exchanged.
There are other types of deeds that can be used to transfer property ownership between parties under specific circumstances. Below are examples of such deeds.
Grant deed – A grant deed requires the grantor to assure the grantee that he or she has not transferred property title to another party and it has no hidden liens or encumbrances. However, a grant deed does not offer warranties. It is used as a substitute for a California quit claim deed form.
Bargain and sale deed – A bargain and sale deed infers that the grantor has ownership of the property without providing any warranties. It is used in states such as Washington and New York.
Ladybird deed – a Ladybird deed is also referred to as an enhanced life estate deed. A ladybird deed permits the grantor to retain life estate and receive certain tax benefits with minimal restrictions.
Types of Ownership
Property ownership will differ from one property to the other. Property owners are required to know the different types of ownership for it determines how the transfer of title will be carried out when selling property or after they pass away. Below are the common types of ownership (title) seen in real estate.
Fee simple – Fee simple ownership is the most common type of property ownership. It means the fee simple holder has complete/full ownership (title) to the property and enjoys unconditional powers to lease, sell or give away the property during their lifetime. Upon death, the real estate is transferred to the fee simple holder’s designated heir(s).
Joint tenancy – Joint tenancy is a type of ownership where two or more parties jointly hold equal or undivided title (ownership) to a property. Each party has equal rights to utilize the property and share liability and financial responsibility to the property equally. Upon the death of one owner, the rights of ownership are transferred to the other surviving owner(s) through a right of survivorship without probate. It is common among married couples.
Tenancy by the entirety – Tenancy by the entirety is a type of title in real estate reserved for legally married couples only. It operates under the assumption that the married couple is a single entity for legal purposes and owns the property as one. Unlike joint tenancy, one party is not permitted to sell or lease the property without their partner’s consent. However, ownership automatically transfers to the surviving owner if the other owner passes away.
Tenancy in common – Tenancy in common allows two or more parties to have a percentage or fraction of property rights, equally or unequally, each with a separate deed. Each owner has a right to utilize the property fully. However, they do not enjoy survivorship rights. When one owner passes away, their share is taken through probate and transferred to his or her heirs. Sale of one’s share of the property without the consent of the other owners is allowed in a tenancy in the common type of ownership.
When to Use a Quit Claim Deed
Once a property owner has established their type of ownership, they are able to use a quit claim deed form effectively by identifying where to and where not to use it. Below are examples of circumstances where and how a quit claim deed form can be used.
- Marriage – A titleholder can use a quit claim deed form to add their spouse’s name to the deed (s) of property such as house or land acquired before marriage.
- Divorce – A quit claim deed form can be used to remove the name of a property owner’s spouse from the deed after divorce, for example, from the home title deed.
- Family – Property transfers between closely related family members will often not involve the exchange of money. A quit claim deed form can be used to transfer ownership to and from family members such as children and siblings to avoid the lengthy and complex process of real estate purchase and sale.
- Chain of title defect – When companies insuring title to a property find that there is a third party with potential interests or ownership to the property, they ask the third party to waive these potential rights through a quit claim deed form before issuing the title insurance.
- Estate planning – As a property owner who wishes to keep the title to the property within the family for generations through a living trust, one can use a quit claim deed form to transfer ownership to the trust.
- Business – Parent companies can transfer ownership to their subsidiaries where the parent company is the grantor, and the subsidiary is the grantee.
- Public auction sale – Grantors selling property through an auction sale can use a quit claim deed form to transfer ownership to the buyer without any warranties.
- LLC or corporation – A quit claim deed form can be used when LLCs and corporations transfer property amongst themselves. This is because they are closely related entities in terms of the liability of the owners.
- Last will – Property owners can transfer property to their heirs through a quit claim deed form to sidestep the lengthy probate process.
Provisions, Definitions, and Basic Contents
When creating a quit claim deed form, there are various fundamental components that must appear in the document. This ensures that the quit claim deed form effectively serves its purpose and ensures the grantor is protected during and after the transfer of property ownership. They include;
The title is customarily the first component of the quit claim deed form. It identifies the type of document. A “Quit Claim” title is often used.
The quit claim deed should be dated. The effective date represents the date when the document was completed and signed and marks the date when the transfer of ownership (execution) took place.
The grantor is the person(s) transferring their title to the property to another party. The grantor can be an individual person or entity such as an LLC, Corporation, Trust or trustee, Partnership, etc.
Grantee is the person or entity receiving the title, interest, or rights to the real estate being transferred.
Consideration is the compensation the grantor receives in exchange for their title to the property. However, quit claim deed forms can be used without a “consideration” or “gift.” Tax regulations should be consulted to ensure no tax requirements are applicable when transferring ownership rights with a quit claim deed. Consideration can be as little as $10.
The quit claim deed form should contain a legal description of the property being transferred. The legal description is used to identify the specific property. A legal description will include a tax map, deed book, page numbers, and a parcel number.
All real estate properties have a parcel number assigned to them for tax purposes. It must appear on the quit claim deed.
The quit claim deed form can be created to accommodate other provisions and terms related to the transfer of ownership of property. Such additional terms are as follows;
- Easements – Easement is the legal right to access or use another person’s property. The grantor can include this if they expect to use or access the property, for example, access to a private road.
- Encumbrances – An encumbrance is an interest, right, or liability attached to the property title, such as a lien or mortgage. If a grantor is aware of any encumbrance, they can include it in the quit claim deed.
- Life Estate – The right to a life estate is the right to retain ownership of the property as long as one is alive. The grantor can choose to retain this right which will be reverted to the grantee upon the grantor’s death.
- Mailing Address – The quit claim deed should have a return address for the original deed once it has been recorded or verified.
- Mineral Rights – The grantor can declare that they are to retain total or partial ownership of subsurface minerals e.g., oil and gas found beneath the property.
- Spousal Acknowledgment – Married grantors whose spouses are not signatories of the quit claim deed can include a spousal acknowledgment that declares the spouse is waiving any current or future interests or ownership of the property.
- Taxpayer – The quit claim can indicate who will be liable for property taxes after the transfer. The taxpayer should be identified by name and a mailing address to receive tax bills.
There should be a section where signatures are to be supplied by the appropriate parties. The following parties should sign the quit claim deed form.
- Receiver – The receiver is the grantor. It should state “After recording, return to” before providing the name and mailing address of the grantor.
- Witnesses – Some states will require the quit claim deed to be witnessed and/or be notarized. If witnessed, the witnesses’ signatures, names, and addresses must appear on the document.
- Notary public – The Notary public should provide their signature, name, and jurisdiction their represent.
The last component on the quit claim deed is a declaration of the preparer of the document. Commonly it will be the grantor or an attorney.
Special Considerations for the Landlord
Before a grantor can transfer their interest or ownership of the property to a grantee, there are various things they ought to take into considerations. These include;
Title insurance and mortgages
The first thing a grantor should consider is their title insurance and mortgage policies. Depending on the terms of the policies, transfer of property might result in issues related to the insurance and mortgage. For example, consequences might get to termination of the title insurance or trigger a mortgage’s due on sale clause.
Also, grantors on the verge of divorce planning on conveying their ownership of the property with a mortgage to the other spouse should consider resolving mortgage obligations before the transfer. This is because even after the property has been transferred, they will still be obligated to pay the mortgage. If mortgage obligations are not addressed, the grantor might still be responsible for the mortgage and with no claim to the property they are paying the mortgage for.
Fraud and abuse
Contents of the quit claim deed should be specific so as to avoid misinterpretation, which might result in fraud claims by the grantee. Also, avoid wording or provisions that may inadvertently create warranties and litigation in the future. Seeking legal counsel from an attorney or Title Company is an effective way of ensuring this does not happen.
In addition, before transferring the ownership to someone using a quit claim deed form, be aware that one is giving up any right, interest, and claim to the property. One should look out for fraudsters, especially parties or entities, asking one to sign a quit claim deed form in order to “save their home.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I revoke or cancel a Quitclaim Deed?
Once signed and notarized, quit claim deeds cannot be revoked or cancelled unless the court revokes the deed if it is found that the grantor was under the influence or coerced to sign the deed. However, the grantee is allowed to transfer the property back to the grantor.
Is using a Quitclaim Deed secure?
A quit claim deed transfer is secure for low-risk property ownership transfers between parties that know and trust each other. However, when transferring ownership of significantly valuable property and to someone one is less familiar with, they will often require assurances and proof of ownership and transfer, and hence other deeds like a warranty deed are recommended.
What are Tax Implications of a Quitclaim Deed?
The grantee assumes tax obligations of the transferred property. The transfer of property will require a small percentage of the consideration or gift or purchase price to be paid as real estate transfer tax in most states. However, in most cases, there are exemptions to this requirement, for example, transfer between a parent and child. A quit claim deed transfer can result in other taxes, including federal income, inheritance, or gift taxes, and as a result, it is best to consult a tax attorney.
What are homestead rights?
Homestead rights are rights awarded by state laws and prohibit spouses from selling or transferring a homestead without the consent/acknowledgment and signature of their spouse.