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Property Quitclaim Deeds

Property Quitclaim Deeds

What is a Quitclaim Deed?

A quitclaim deed is a particular type of property deed or agreement. It allows for property transfer to a new owner, with little or no protection for either party.

Quitclaim deeds also offer no promises on the quality of the property title. Although a quitclaim deed for property may say someone's name, they have no legal commitment or guarantee to the property.

They are also commonly called non-warranty deeds.

What is a Deed, and What are Warranties?

What is a Deed, and What are Warranties?

Deeds are either private or official—they dictate who owns a property and their legal obligations to that property. For example, there are property deeds, trustees' deeds, tax deeds, and more. One person or an entity usually owns these.

Warranties guarantee that two parties will or will not do something following a contract. For example, general warranty deeds typically host the most protection for all parties, while quitclaim deeds hold the least.

Warranties will "promise" or "guarantee" aspects of a contract. Quitclaims (also called non-warranty deeds) do not offer these warranties to the parties involved.

Those who sign a quitclaim, usually the receiver party, have no guarantee to the property itself. It is for this reason that quitclaims are typically only used within families.

What is a Quitclaim Deed in Real Estate?

A property quitclaim deed specifies the release of one party's right, title, or interest in a property—without guaranteeing the other party's warranty of title. Quitclaims also typically involve no money and thus can be a low-risk solution to property issues.

Their inherent low risk is why they are the preferred solution for transferring property within families. However, they also help with many other deed-related issues.

When are Quitclaim Deeds Used?

When are Quitclaim Deeds Used?

Quitclaims are chosen over traditional deed paperwork for a few reasons. For example, it is relatively low-risk, and it is also cheaper and faster than conventional methods. Quitclaims are a convenient option in many property-related situations, including:

  • Marriage: add a new spouse to your property title.
  • Divorce: remove that new spouse from your property title.
  • Transfer property to children: give your parcel to your children.
  • Wills: give the property title to a loved one or a friend.
  • Gifts: give the property title to a loved one or friend + stay alive.
  • Fix errors on the original title: is it Michelle or Michele?
  • Clarify ownership: make clear the owner of a property (and their obligations).
  • Add property to a business: this adds extra security to your property.
  • Add property to a trust: this also adds protection to your property.
  • When filing for bankruptcy: keep the old family home in the family.

How does a Quitclaim Deed Work?

How does a Quitclaim Deed Work?

Information a Quitclaim Deed May Need to Be Valid

Quitclaims are valid legal documentation. There are pieces of information that must be valid for the quitclaim actually to become binding. Additionally, quitclaims have guidelines set by the states, so every state has a different set of information and processes to validate them. Some standard requirements may include:

  • The name and signature of the grantor (party releasing interest).
  • The name and signature of the grantee (party receiving deed).
  • The county name, address, and a description of the property.
  • A consideration amount (usually $10) or any other fees for processing.
  • A notary to legitimize the document.

Some states or municipalities may ask for more specific information too:

  • A specialized stamp acquired by a state-recognized notary.
  • Tax parcel/APN number: also called a Property Identification Number (PIN) or an Assessor's Identification Number (AIN). You can find these numbers on a property tax statement or your county's assessor website.
  • Escrow number: escrow companies use this number as an identifier when discussing your property. It is not necessary for a quitclaim unless using an escrow company.
  • Title order number: the number used by a title company to speak about a specific property. It is not necessary for a quitclaim unless using a title company.

Quitclaim Examples from Various States

All states approach quitclaims differently. Here are some different approaches to quitclaims across the US:

The Nellis Law Center in Nevada prepared this quitclaim deed form. This form is different from the others in that it does not require a description of the property being "quitclaimed".

In comparison, this quitclaim form is prepared by the Winnebago county recorder in Illinois. This is different from the others in that more information is needed from the grantor.

Then there is this quitclaim effect, prepared by the Utah State Legislature. This differs from the others in requiring less precise information from the grantor about the property.

There are also states with multiple views on quitclaims. Maine Legislature, for example, recognizes quitclaims with a covenant and limited covenant. A covenant means that parties can add additional agreements or conditions to the deed.

Things to Remember about Quitclaim Deeds

Things to Remember about Quitclaim Deeds

Quitclaim Deeds have the Least Amount of Protection for Parties

Quitclaim deeds are chosen over other property transfer forms because they are the quick and dirty solution. However, they are also chosen over other options because they avoid guarantees or claims to a property. If you enter a quitclaim deal with a family member, research specific quitclaim information for your state.

Quitclaim Deeds Affect the Ownership of Property, Not the Mortgage

Some grantors will quitclaim their properties, assuming the mortgage will also transfer with the title. This is not true. Quitclaim deeds will only transfer the title; they do not affect the mortgage or the agreement with a mortgage company.

If a grantee is supposed to undertake a mortgage in place of a grantor, the mortgage lender must be contacted. The lender must approve the grantee to make payments in place of the grantor.

Final Thoughts

Quitclaim property deeds are useful legal instruments. They help property owners parse out their land, and they also help clarify legal paperwork.

However, because quitclaims are state-level contracts, there is no universal way to approach them. Every state has its own flavor. Learn about your state's variation before entering into any quitclaim agreement.

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