A Helpful Primer on Quitclaim Deeds, a Simple Way to Transfer Ownership of Property
A quitclaim deed is a useful and incredibly simple legal document that is used in a variety of circumstances involving property transfer. If you’re unsure what a quitclaim deed is or when it’s helpful to use one, here is a quick primer.
What is a quitclaim deed?
It’s important to distinguish a quitclaim deed from other types of property transfers. General and specialty warranty deeds, for example, contain warranties of title. As LegalZoom.com states, these deeds will contain clauses that guarantee the grantee the right to legally purchase and possess the property in question. Warranty deeds allow the grantor to transfer ownership of a property with the guarantee that they have the right to do so, and have claim of ownership of the property.
Quitclaim deeds make no such claims. With a quitclaim deed, there is no assurance that the grantor owns the property. All that it does is state that the grantor gives up any ownership rights to the property in question (they quit any claim). While the grantee has no legal assurances or protections of their own ownership in this case, they are protected from the grantor ever claiming ownership at any time in the future. Once a quitclaim has been filed, the person quitting their claim has no ownership claims at all, in perpetuity.
When are quitclaim deeds used?
Likely the most common use of a quitclaim deed is for property transfer within members of a family. This can be a parent transferring property to a child, transfer among siblings, or a person who owns a property adding their new spouse’s name to the title. It can also be used to transfer to a trust, fixing clerical errors on titles, and for transfer between you and a business you own.
Another common use of a quitclaim deed is during divorce. Whoever takes possession of the marital home following a divorce can get the other to sign a quitclaim deed, relinquishing all claim to the property. This sort of transfer during divorce is just as legally binding as a warranty deed. Quitclaim deeds are often used in divorce not solely due to their relative ease, but because the spouse giving up their rights to the property isn’t making any claims on ownership – meaning they are protected against any future problems with the title.
It’s important to note that using a quitclaim deed in a divorce only transfers ownership of the property – whose name is on the title, in other words. It doesn’t have any bearing on financial obligations. If the grantor is still on the mortgage, for example, they still have financial responsibilities concerning the property.
So, why use a quitclaim deed?
Simplicity and ease is a big selling point for quitclaim deeds. As long as you research your specific state (and often county) requirements for quitclaims, you can print a form off the internet and file it yourself. All you have to do is get it notarized. No lawyers required. This is especially nice when going through a divorce, when you are worrying about a thousand other things like hiring movers for your stuff, child custody, and many other financial matters.
Quitclaim deeds come with their own risks, as there is no guarantee of ownership of the property – no warranties against claims on the title. But in some specific situations, like when dealing with family members or going through a divorce, quitclaim deeds are simple and effective tools for transferring property.
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Author: Jim McKinley (MoneyWithJim.org)