When to Use

  • You are selling or transferring real estate and providing the standard title warranties.
  • You need a deed tailored for your state.
  • The parties—called the grantor and grantee—are either individuals, businesses, or trustees.

What Is a General Warranty Deed?

A general warranty deed is the go-to deed to use for selling a property because it includes standard promises that buyers expect. Basically, the deed provides guarantees to the new owner that the grantor has a valid legal title to the property and that the title is free and clear of any liens or other defects (unless explicitly listed in the deed).

Use a quit claim deed to quickly sell or transfer property without warranties. This deed is commonly used to add new owners to the title, transfer property to family, or remove a “cloud” on the title.

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Help Guide

General warranty deeds are useful for quickly and easily transferring title to real estate to a new owner. As opposed to quit claim deeds, which make no warranties, general warranty deeds make warranties to the buyer as to the status of the property title. Review the following instructions for additional help completing your deed.

Number of Grantors and Grantees

Remember, the grantor is the party that owns the property and is selling or transferring title to the grantee. Both grantors and grantees may be either individuals or business entities. LegalNature's general warranty deed allows up to 10 grantors and 10 grantees.

The general rule when answering these questions is to add one grantor for each current property owner that will be transferring title or otherwise changing his or her ownership interest; for instance, by adding a family member to share title.

However, a married couple deeding or receiving title should be counted as only ONE grantor or grantee. For example, if a married couple owns a home and is deeding the home to another married couple, then you would select "1" grantor and "1" grantee. You will then be able to specify each spouse's information on a later step.

Note that if a grantor wishes to remain an owner of the property and simply wishes to add additional owners on the title, then that grantor should be included as a grantee as well. For instance, if a grantor wishes to add his or her daughter to the title, then select "1" grantor and "2" grantees. However, if a grantor wishes to add his or her spouse to the title, then select "1" grantor and "1" grantee (since married couples are counted as one). Note that you may have to enter the same information twice if a person is both a grantor and a grantee.

Grantor and Grantee Types

You will need to specify whether each grantor and grantee is a married individual, a non-married individual, a trustee, or a business. If the party is married, then include the relevant information for the party's spouse when prompted.

If a party is receiving the property as a trustee, then the trustee should be named as the grantee, not the trust itself. The deed will state that the trustee is receiving the property on behalf of the trust. If there are multiple co-trustees, you may list the name of any one of the trustees. If a business is receiving the property, then you will name the business as the grantee and enter the name of the agent who will sign on behalf of the business. The agent should be someone with proper authority to sign binding contracts on behalf of the business, such as an owner, executive, or manager.

You will also have the option of choosing "Grantor's spouse" as the grantee type for the first grantee. This option should be selected if the first grantor that you entered previously is married to the first grantee.

Finally, if you indicated that a grantee is married, then you will be asked whether or not that grantee's spouse will also share ownership of the property. If you select "No," then the spouse who is not receiving any interest will need to sign where indicated in the signature section. This makes it clear that the spouse willingly waived any rights he or she would have acquired to the property by being married to the grantee. Note that if you and your spouse are legally separated but not divorced, then still select "Married individual."

Grantee Ownership Type – Sole Owner or Co-Owner?

If there is only one grantee, then you will be asked whether this grantee will be receiving title as the sole owner of the property or as a co-owner. You should select "Sole owner" only if no other person will share ownership with the grantee after the deed is signed.

Select "Co-owner" if more than one person or business will share ownership of the property with the grantee after the deed is signed. This would be the case, for example, if the grantor is a tenant in common and is transferring his or her interest to the grantee. The other tenants in common would not necessarily join in the deed as grantors, since only the grantor is changing his or her interest.

You should also select "Co-owner" if the grantee's spouse will be sharing ownership with the grantee.

Grantee's Property Interest

Here you should indicate what type of joint property interest the grantees are receiving. Depending on your state, you can choose between a tenancy in common, a joint tenancy, a tenancy by the entirety or community property interest, and a partnership.

Tenancy in Common

A tenancy in common is a joint property interest in which each tenant (property owner) owns an undivided share in the whole property. Each tenant may transfer his or her interest without the need for the other tenants to join in the deed. When a tenant dies, his or her share passes according to their will or under state intestacy law when no will exists. Multiple businesses sharing ownership often choose to own as tenants in common due to the simplicity and flexibility of these ownership interests.

Joint Tenancy

A joint tenancy is the same but with a few important differences. First, each tenant owns an equal interest. So if there are four joint tenants, then each tenant has a 1/4 ownership interest in the property. Also, a joint tenant may not sell or transfer his or her interest without the consent of the other tenants. This means that all joint tenants must sign as grantors when transferring or changing ownership and must sign together as grantees when receiving ownership. Lastly, each tenant has the right of survivorship, so when a joint tenant dies, his or her interest automatically passes to the other joint tenants in equal shares.

Tenancy by the Entirety

Tenancy by the entirety and community property interests are basically identical in nature and only differ in name. They are both similar to a joint tenancy but are for married couples. The same rules apply, including right of survivorship.

Partnership

If California businesses are sharing ownership, then they can consider choosing a partnership interest, which is similar to a tenancy in common but may offer certain advantages under state law.

Final Steps

Every deed should be recorded with the appropriate local office, usually called the County Recorder's Office or County Clerk's Office. As every county has its own specific filing requirements, we recommend contacting your local office to see if it requires any supplemental forms, whether or not it has any special requirements, and also if you need help writing a proper legal description.

  • Leave all margins blank. Our general warranty deed sets the margin default sizes at one inch, except for the top of the first page, which is three inches to give extra space for official use only. Your local office will inform you whether you need to vary these sizes somewhat.
  • Do not staple multiple pages together unless your local office specifically permits it.
  • All signatures on the document must be originals—not copied, printed, or stamped.
  • If the seller is conveying any part of the marital homestead, both spouses must sign where indicated.

In most states, your general warranty deed will be considered effective and executed once it has been both signed by the grantor and also delivered and accepted by the grantee. Note: the grantee normally does not need to sign; however, in a few counties across the nation, the grantee is also required to sign—especially in parts of Kentucky. Be sure to ask your local office if you think this might apply to you, or you can simply have the grantee sign it below the grantor's signature just to be safe.

Although recording is not always required, it is highly recommended that you do record as soon as possible. This will protect you from any potential adverse claims to your title by other parties. Every person listed in the deed should receive a copy of the deed and the original should be recorded. Typically, the County Recorder's Office returns the original deed back to the grantee who in turn provides a copy to the grantor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a general warranty deed?

A general warranty deed is a type of property deed used to transfer ownership of real estate to one or more new owners. Unlike a quit claim deed, which makes no title warranties, a general warranty deed guarantees that the seller is the rightful owner of the property and is selling it free of any liens or defects (unless explicitly stated in the deed).

What is an encumbrance on real estate?

A real estate encumbrance is a claim against real estate that diminishes its value. Examples include liens, encroachments, easements, and deed restrictions>.

What is a deed?

A deed is a legal document used to evidence the transfer of real estate from one individual to another. The person who is conveying the property is known as the grantor, whereas the person receiving the property is called the grantee.

In general, there are three types of deeds:

  • Quit claim deed – passes property title, but does not guarantee that the title is clear
  • Warranty deed – passes property title, while guaranteeing the title is clear
  • Grant deed – passes title and guarantees that the grantor has not passed the title to anyone else

What is a lien?

A lien is a type of security interest in real estate that gives the lien holder a right to repayment of a debt or performance of some other obligation. It is considered a "nonpossessory" interest in real estate in that the lien holder does not physically possess the property.

A common example of a lien is a real estate mortgage. Here, the borrower pledges the property as collateral for securing repayment of the mortgage loan to the lender.

What is a grantor and grantee?

In the context of a real estate transaction, the grantor is the party that is selling or otherwise transferring legal title to the property to the new owner, called the grantee.

What is community property?

Community property is a form of joint property ownership wherein all property and income acquired by one or both spouses during marriage is considered jointly owned and equally shared. Both spouses also share most debts acquired by either of them during marriage.

Property that is acquired before marriage or during legal separation is not considered community property. Likewise, an asset is not community property if it was given to only one of the spouses as a gift or through inheritance. Finally, an asset will also be considered separate property if it is acquired in only one spouse's name and is never used to benefit the other spouse.

Community property also gives each spouse the right of survivorship, meaning that when one spouse dies, his or her interest automatically passes to the other spouse without having to go through probate court.

Acquiring community property is only allowed in the following nine US states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In Alaska, spouses may opt-in to the community property system if they follow certain rules.

What is tenancy by the entirety?

A tenancy by the entirety is a type of joint property ownership acquired by one or both spouses during marriage. Each spouse receives the right of survivorship, meaning that when one spouse dies, his or her interest automatically passes to the other spouse without having to go through probate court. The interest must not be given to only one of the spouses as a gift, through inheritance, or as separate property.

What is joint tenancy?

A joint tenancy is a type of joint property ownership wherein all owners own equal interests. Also, each joint tenant has a right of survivorship, meaning that when one joint tenant dies, the other joint tenants will receive the deceased tenant’s interest in the property in proportional amounts. To be joint tenants, all owners must be named as grantees in the same property deed.

What is tenancy in common?

A tenancy in common is a type of joint property ownership wherein all owners own an undivided interest in the whole property; however, these interests do not have to be in equal shares. Also, the tenants in common do not have rights of survivorship. This means that when one dies, that person's share in the property goes to his or her named heirs or beneficiaries.

What is the difference between sole ownership and co-ownership?

Sole ownership is when a piece of real estate is owned by only one legal owner, while co-ownership—also called joint ownership—is when property is owned by two or more legal owners. Types of joint ownership include joint tenancy, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety, and community property.

Keep in mind that different types of entities may own property, including individuals, businesses, and property placed into trusts.

What is a deed restriction?

A deed restriction is a covenant or condition that creates specific limitations on how the owner may use the property. Deed restrictions are usually imposed by the property's previous owner, developer, or homeowners' association. Common examples include architectural styles, restrictions on the materials and colors of structures built on the land, and whether or not businesses may operate on the land.

What is an easement?

An easement is a type of property right wherein the holder of the easement has the right to occupy, cross, or use another person's land for a specific purpose. For example, a property owner might grant an easement to a neighbor giving them the right to build and use a road across a specific portion of the owner’s land. Easements are considered encumbrances on property titles, and they must be disclosed when transferring property.

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Checklist

Step 1: Gather Information

As you complete your general warranty deed, you will need to provide certain relevant information. This includes the names and addresses of all the parties involved, the legal description of the property, the sale price (if any), and other basic transaction information.

Step 2: Answer Key Questions

Use the information you collected to complete the general warranty deed. We make this easy by guiding you each step of the way and helping you to customize your deed to match your specific needs. The questions and information we present to you dynamically change depending on your answers and the state selected.

Step 3: Review and Sign

It is always important to read your deed thoroughly to ensure it matches your needs and is free of errors and omissions. After completing the questionnaire, you can make textual changes to your deed by downloading it in Microsoft Word. If no changes are needed, you can simply download the PDF version and sign. These downloads are available by navigating to the Documents section of your account dashboard.

In most counties, only the person transferring title (called the “Grantor”) will need to sign the deed. A few counties also require the party receiving title (called the “Grantee”) to sign it.

All signings must be done in front of notary, and your state or county may require additional witnesses as well. For property sales, this is normally done at closing with the escrow agent.

Step 4: File the Deed in the County Public Records

Filing the deed in the public records is required to protect the transaction and the new owner. The office that manages this is usually located in the county courthouse. Common names for this office include the County Clerk’s Office, County Recorder’s Office, Land Registry Office, or Register of Deeds. There is often a small fee per page filed. The clerk will normally stamp the deed, make a copy, and give the original deed back to you.