When to Use a Quit Claim Deed

  • You want to transfer your property interest without warranties.
  • You want to gift your property to a family member or share it with them.
  • You are transferring the property to a trust.
  • You are gifting the property to someone else.
  • You need to update the names on the property title.
  • You need to resolve a “cloud” on the property title.

Because quit claim deeds do not contain any title warranties, they are normally used between parties that know and trust each other.

What Does a Quit Claim Deed Do?

A quit claim deed is the simplest and cleanest way to transfer or divide a property interest among trusted parties. Unlike a general warranty deed, it does not contain any warranties that the title is free and clear of liens or other restrictions. Instead, the owner is simply transferring the property interest “as is.” This makes this deed a favorite for transfers between family members and in other situations where the parties have no need for title insurance to protect against defects.

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Help Guide

The following instructions guide you through the main issues and considerations when completing a quit claim deed.

Number of Grantors and Grantees

First, you will need to determine the appropriate grantors and grantees to name on the deed. Hint: whoever will own the property after the deed transfer is a grantee, and the owners whose interests are being changed by the deed are grantors. Basically, the current owners (grantors) are transferring title to the new owners (grantees). Keep in mind that a person may be both a grantor and a grantee. For instance, this occurs when you want to keep the current owners and add a new owner, such as when one spouse wants to add the other spouse to the property title. On this step, be sure to include one grantor for every current owner that is selling, transferring, or otherwise altering their ownership interest.

Type of Grantors and Grantees

When indicating the grantor and grantee types, select between an unmarried individual, a married individual, a business, or a trust.

If land is transferring to a trust, then the deed will be transferred into the name of the trustee to hold on behalf of the trust. In the event that there are co-trustees, then you may name any trustee on the deed. If the property is going to a business, then the business will be named as a grantee and you will also include the name of the authorized individual signing on behalf of the business. This person is known as the “authorized agent” and is typically an owner, executive, or other person authorized to sign binding contracts for the business.

Where a grantee is receiving property as the sole owner and the grantee’s spouse will not share ownership, then the spouse must still sign the deed in order to affirm that he or she waives any ownership rights in the property. Note that where married individuals are legally separated but not divorced, they are still considered married.

Grantee’s Property Interest

If there will be only one owner of the property, then you will name the grantee as the sole owner. On the other hand, if there will be multiple owners, then select co-owner when prompted. If the grantees are co-owners, then you will select the type of joint property interest the grantees are sharing with one another. Each state allows different types of joint ownership, but these typically include tenancy in common, joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety, community property, and partnership.

Tenancy in Common

A tenancy in common is a form of co-ownership wherein each tenant (property owner) owns an interest in the entire property. The tenants are not required to hold equal shares, so one tenant might own three quarters of the property while another only holds a quarter interest. The owners are free to sell or give away their individual interests without needing the other owners to sign the deed. If an owner passes away, their interest will be controlled by their will or under state intestacy law when no will exists. The ease and flexibility offered by a tenancy in common makes this joint interest a favorite for multiple businesses wishing to share ownership.

Joint Tenancy

A joint tenancy is similar to a tenancy in common but with some key distinctions. First, every owner must hold an equal interest. For instance, four owners will each hold a quarter interest. Second, the owners may not sell or give away their interests without the consent of the other joint tenants. Each tenant is therefore required to sign any such deeds. Finally, the joint tenants all have the right of survivorship. This means that when an owner passes away, their interest automatically transfers to the other joint tenants in equal shares.

Tenancy by the Entirety and Community Property

The tenancy by the entirety and community property interests are essentially the same, with some states using one name and other states using the other. However, some states do not allow these property interests. These two interests work in the same way as a joint tenancy but may only be held by married couples. Our questionnaire will automatically include the permitted property interests for your state.

Partnership

California allows businesses to share property ownership as a partnership. This form of ownership is similar to a tenancy in common but may offer benefits under state law.

Final Steps

You will need to register your deed with the appropriate office, usually called the County Recorder’s Office or County Clerk’s Office. Every county has slightly different rules as to what must be included on the deed, how the deed is formatted, and the steps you need to follow in order to register the deed, and these rules are constantly changing. For this reason, we strongly recommend calling your local office to ensure that you have met their various requirements prior to going to the office to file your deed.

Be sure to not write in the page margins of the deed. Many offices require these to be kept blank. LegalNature’s quit claim deed uses one-inch margins, except for a three-inch margin at the top of the first page.

  • Avoid stapling the pages of your deed together if it is more than one page, unless you know that your local office allows it.
  • The deed you file must include original signatures. No digital, copied, or stamped signatures are normally allowed.
  • Whenever a seller is transferring all or part of a marital homestead (a house owned and lived in by a married couple), then both spouses must sign.

A quit claim deed is considered legal and effective once each grantor has signed it and the deed is delivered and accepted by the grantee(s). However, a few counties across the U.S. also require that each grantee sign as well, especially in Kentucky. It is a good idea to ask your local office if grantees must sign. If this is the case or you just want to be on the safe side, then have each grantee handwrite on the signature page below the grantors, “I, [print name], accept this deed” followed by his or her signature. Note that anyone signing the document must wait to do so until in the presence of a notary, who will complete the attached notary acknowledgment.

At this point your deed has been legally executed. However, it is important to record it with your local office as soon as possible in order to protect the grantees’ ownership claim. Provide a copy of the recorded deed to each person who signed it. Normally, your local office will return the original deed to the grantees, who in turn send copies to the grantors.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a quit claim deed?

A quit claim deed is a common deed used to transfer property from one person (the grantor) to another (the grantee). A quit claim deed is specifically used to immediately transfer real property, while not making any warranties that the title is clear. This means that the grantor is not guaranteeing that the title is clear and that they have the legal right to transfer the property.

When should I use a quit claim deed?

Due to the nature of a quit claim deed, it tends to be used for specific purposes when the transfer of title needs to be done quickly. Quit claim deeds are generally not used for normal sales of real estate between unknown parties. They are generally used for the following activities:

  • Transferring a property into a trust
  • Removing a spouse from a title during the divorce procedure
  • Adding a spouse to a title after marriage
  • Transferring property within a family; for example, from parent to child

Does a quit claim deed need to be registered?

Yes; your quit claim deed needs to be filed with your County Clerk’s or Recorder’s Office. The quit claim deed will become a matter of public record and will be able to be viewed if a title search is conducted.

Does a quit claim deed remove my liability for debt?

No; a quit claim deed only transfers the names on the title. If there are any mortgages or liens associated with the property, then you will still be liable and the terms of your contract with these creditors will remain in force.

Can I reverse a quit claim deed?

Generally speaking, no. Once a quit claim deed has been completed and filed with the County Clerk’s Office, the title will officially pass from the grantor to the grantee. The only way to reverse a quit claim deed is to go to court and prove that the grantor was forced to sign the document under duress.

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Checklist

Step 1: Gather Information

When completing your quit claim deed, you will need to include specific 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 information about the transaction.

Step 2: Answer Key Questions

Use the information gathered on step 1 to complete your deed. LegalNature can assist by guiding you through a short questionnaire to help you tailor the deed according to your needs. The questions we ask will dynamically change based on your answers.

Step 3: Review and Sign

You should be sure to read the deed thoroughly in order to avoid making any errors. As every county has different rules, and such rules frequently change, we strongly recommend calling your local office before signing in order to ensure that your deed meets their requirements. Depending on your county, this office may be known as the County Clerk’s Office, County Recorder’s Office, Land Registry Office, or Register of Deeds. If need be, you can always download your deed in .doc format and open it in Microsoft Word or Google Documents if you need to make any textual edits. If no edits are required, then you are ready to sign.

In most counties, only the individuals selling or gifting the property to the new owners (the “grantors”) will need to sign the deed. A minority of counties also require the parties receiving title (the “grantees”) to sign it.

Each party signing the deed must wait to do so until in the presence of a notary public. When the property is being sold, the signing usually occurs at closing with the escrow agent also present.

Step 4: File the Deed in the County Public Records

You must file the deed with your local land records office in order to protect the transaction and new owners from adverse claims of ownership. This office is often located at or near the county courthouse. You will probably have to pay a small fee to file, usually less than $30. The clerk will normally stamp the deed, make a copy, and mail or give the original deed back to you.

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