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What Is a Quitclaim Deed?

A quitclaim deed offers a way to give any possible interest in a property to someone else. Because a quitclaim does not provide any guarantee of ownership, this type of document is only useful for limited situations. Essentially, a quitclaim deed just gives you a quick and easy way to relinquish any claim you have on a property so that you can release it to another party.

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A quitclaim deed is used when you want to transfer property interest from one person, the grantor, to another person, the grantee. Quitclaim deeds are also called non-warranty deeds as there is no warranty to the property title with this kind of deed. Quitclaim deeds are used most often between parties that know each other, such as divorcing partners or family members.

Quitclaim Deed vs. Warranty Deed

Most property sales make use of warranty deeds, which guarantee that the grantor owns clear and complete interest in the property. A warranty deed also guarantees that the property is free of liens.

A quitclaim deed, on the other hand, does not have that warranty that the grantor has full rights to the property. While a quitclaim deed does transfer a property's title, it does not make any promise about that title.

Additionally, a quitclaim deed transfers only what the grantor actually owns. In other words, if two people own a property together and one of those owners quitclaims their interest to a spouse, that person is only transferring their half of ownership.

When Should You Use a Quitclaim Deed?

A quitclaim deed offers an easy, fast way to transfer property among family members. Quitclaim deeds are also a good option when you want to put real estate into a trust.

You can use a quitclaim deed when you want to:

  • Bequeath property in a last will
  • Add the name of your spouse to a property title
  • Remove the name of your spouse from a property title after divorce
  • Transfer property to:
    • A child
    • A sibling
    • Another family member
  • Transfer property interest to a business partner
  • Transfer property to a living trust

A quitclaim deed is most commonly used if a property is being transferred without a traditional sale. With a quitclaim deed, you don't need a title search, and you don't need to use title insurance.

Quitclaim deeds are also used when you need to clear up the title to a property. For example, sometimes there is an issue with someone else potentially having ownership rights to a property. In those cases, that person could sign a quitclaim to be certain the new owner of the property has the complete title.

However, quitclaim deeds should not be used as a method of selling real estate. This is because the new owner of the property does not get a guarantee about the title or how valid that title is with a quitclaim deed.

How Does a Quitclaim Deed Work?

A quitclaim deed is most useful in a situation where you want to make a straightforward ownership transfer. Divorce is one of the main reasons to file a quitclaim deed, and this situation offers a good example of how these types of deeds work. If a divorcing couple jointly owns a home, the spouse who will not keep the home can sign a quitclaim deed, which then transfers their interest in the property to the spouse that has been awarded the home in the divorce proceedings.

Another common example is when one person passes their house to another relative. Parents can grant their house to their child without any expectation of receiving payment just by signing a quitclaim deed.

Finally, you may have a case when there are issues with the title of a property that raises questions about whether another party may have ownership. A lawyer may seek to have the individual sign a quitclaim so that they relinquish any possible rights, thereby avoiding potential problems and disputes later on.

How To Create a Quitclaim Deed

If you are looking to transfer a title by quitclaim, you will need a quitclaim deed form to exist in writing for the transfer to be considered valid.

Basic elements of the legal quitclaim deed document include:

  • Legal description of the property
  • County the property is located in
  • Date of property transfer
  • Names of:
    • Grantor
    • Grantee
  • Price, if one has been paid for the transfer

To fill out a quitclaim deed form, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. List grantor and grantee (or grantees): The grantor is the party that will transfer interest in the property title, while the grantee will receive that interest in the property. Either party may be corporations or individuals.
  2. Determine consideration: All legally binding contracts include consideration. In the case of a quitclaim deed, consideration is the price the grantee will pay to the grantor to obtain the property interest. You must list an amount for consideration for the document to be considered a valid agreement, so you'll often find a small amount (even $1) listed as consideration if the transfer is made as a gift. Here is further information about consideration.
  3. Include a legal property description: You need to include a description of the property in the quitclaim deed. You can usually find this at a local County Clerk office of Registry office, or you may find it on an old deed to the property. Sometimes, you will also be required to list the parcel ID number on the quitclaim deed; you can find this on past tax statements.
  4. Execute the deed: The grantor of a quitclaim deed must sign the document in front of a notary public. Some states also require witnesses to sign the deed. Some states may also require the grantee to sign the deed.
  5. Filing the deed: After the quitclaim deed is signed, you should file it at your local County Clerk office or Registry office if your state requires this (not all states do). You should also send the document to the grantee once it is recorded.

Keep in mind that a quitclaim can be a dangerous way to transfer property if you don't know anything about the party transferring their property to you. You need to make sure that someone really has the rights to their property before signing it to you using a quitclaim deed.

Quitclaim Deeds and Mortgages

As with any type of deed transfer, the only impact is on ownership. Deed transfers cannot change any mortgage that exists on the property.

While a quitclaim deed removes an individual's name from the property title and removes that individual's right to property, it doesn't eliminate mortgage responsibilities. A quitclaim deed removes a name but does not absolve that person from needing to pay off any debts they incur as the property's owner.

The mortgage is a separate document from the quitclaim deed. This can come into play during a divorce. For example, if one spouse quitclaims their property to the other spouse, this doesn't remove either spouse's name from the mortgage — nor does it remove the responsibility to pay that mortgage.

The only ways to relieve a borrower from their mortgage obligation are by using:

  • A payoff of the mortgage
  • A refinance ( Here is an article about refinancing your mortgage)
  • A sale of a property that results in a mortgage payoff

You should work with an experienced lawyer if you are using a quitclaim deed to transfer or receive property in this way.

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