What Is a Quitclaim Deed and When Do You Need to Get One?

Are you curious about the terms “quitclaim,” “grantor,” and “grantee”? These types of deeds and specific terms may come up if you’re transferring property between family members or spouses.

What is a quitclaim deed?
If you are selling your home now, you may not remember that you signed and received a deed when you purchased your property, such as a warranty deed or quitclaim deed (sometimes called a quick claim deed).

The particular real estate deed provides proof of ownership for the buyer and transfers the title or deed to you, regardless of who the property owner (or co-owner) was before you.

2 types of deeds to transfer ownership of real property
The legal document that transfers ownership of the property can be a warranty deed or a quitclaim deed.

Warranty deed: Used in most real estate sales transactions, this deed says that the grantor (previous owner) is the owner of the property and has the right to transfer the property to you (the grantee). In addition, the deed serves as a statement that there are no liens against the property from a mortgage lender, the Internal Revenue Service, or any creditor, and that the property can’t be claimed by anyone else. Title insurance provides the financial backup to the warranty deed, and requires a title search to verify that no other claims, encumbrances, easements, or liens on the property are outstanding.

Quitclaim deed: Used when a real estate property transfers ownership without being sold. No money is involved in the transaction, no title search is done to verify ownership, and no title insurance is issued. A quitclaim deed real estate transaction sometimes occurs between family members.

Why use a quitclaim deed
Quitclaim deeds are a quick way to transfer property, most often between family members. Examples include when an owner gets married and wants to add a spouse’s name to the title or deed, or when the owners divorce and one spouse’s name is removed from the title or deed. In other cases, a quitclaim deed can be used when parents transfer property to their children or when siblings transfer property to each other.

Some families or parties opt to put their real property into a family trust, and a quitclaim deed can be used then as well.

Another time that a quitclaim deed might be used is when a title insurance company finds a potential additional owner of a real property and wants to make certain that this person doesn’t make a future claim of ownership.

In that case, the insurance company would ask that person to sign a quitclaim deed.

It is important to recognize that a quitclaim deed impacts only the ownership of the house and the name on the property deed or title, not the mortgage. For instance, in the case of a divorce, if both ex-spouses’ names are on the home mortgage loan, they are both still responsible for the mortgage payments, even if a quitclaim deed has been filed.

Quitclaim deed basics regarding grantors and grantees
The rules about how a quitclaim deed is handled vary by jurisdiction, but generally you need to include the legal description of the property being transferred, the date of the transfer, and the names of the “grantor” and “grantee.”

Not all states require you to record a quitclaim deed, but it’s wise to have the deed signed by the grantor and grantee and notarized in front of a notary public, then copied and recorded at the county recorder or county clerk’s office.

Do you need a quitclaim deed?
Instead of a traditional sale, quitclaim deeds are a quick, easy way to transfer property. For instance, it might make sense to use a quitclaim deed if you are a parent who wants to transfer a home to your children, or if you recently got married, when one spouse wants to add the other to the title of his or her separate property.

One of the biggest benefits to using a quitclaim deed is the fact that it avoids title search or title insurance. However, make note that quitclaim deeds are not used for real estate sales, considering the new owner will not receive any guarantee related to the validity of the title.

How to create a quitclaim deed
Quitclaim deeds must be in writing to be valid, with information including the property, date of transfer, location, and the names of those involved (grantor and grantee). This type of document is typically notarized to be valid and filed with the county clerk where the property is located.

By: Michele Lerner for Realtor.com

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