April 27, 2023


This comprehensive guide will provide you with essential information about quitclaim deeds, starting with their definition, purpose, and how they compare to warranty deeds. You will also learn about various situations when quitclaim deeds are used, as well as how to prepare one including steps to create it, legal terminologies, required information, and state-specific requirements. Additionally, the article will discuss the signing and recording process, notarization, filing, and associated fees and taxes.

Since quitclaim deeds offer no guarantee, the risks and limitations will be addressed, as well as how to resolve common issues with them. Finally, the guide will explore the role of quitclaim deeds in estate planning, divorce settlements, and tax planning purposes.

Understanding Quitclaim Deeds

Meaning and Purpose of Quitclaim Deeds

A quitclaim deed is a legal document that transfers the interest or ownership of a property from the grantor (the person transferring the property) to the grantee (the person receiving the property). Unlike other types of property deeds, a quitclaim deed provides no warranties or guarantees on the property title. This means that the grantee will obtain whatever interest the grantor has in the property, including any potential liabilities, liens, or other claims that may exist.

The primary purpose of a quitclaim deed is to quickly and easily transfer the rights to a property without the need for a thorough title examination or the assurance that the grantor has a valid ownership interest in the property. This is one reason why quitclaim deeds are typically used in situations involving transfers of property between family members or close associates, where there is a high level of trust between the parties involved. This trust is necessary because, with a quitclaim deed, the grantee may ultimately discover that the property has outstanding liens, encumbrances, or other title defects.

Quitclaim Deeds vs. Warranty Deeds

Unlike a quitclaim deed, a warranty deed provides the grantee with several guarantees and warranties regarding the title and ownership of the property. The two primary types of warranty deeds are the general warranty deed and the special (or limited) warranty deed.

A general warranty deed assures the grantee that the property title is free from any defects, encumbrances, or liens, and that the grantor has the legal right to transfer the property. In other words, the grantor ensures to defend the title against any claims or challenges that may arise in the future. This type of deed offers the most protection to the grantee and is often used in typical real estate transactions.

A special warranty deed, on the other hand, is less expansive than a general warranty deed. It guarantees that the grantor has not personally done anything to impact the property’s title during their ownership period, but it does not provide assurances for any possible defects or issues that might have occurred before they took ownership. Consequently, the grantee assumes a certain level of risk in acquiring the property.

In contrast, quitclaim deeds provide no warranties or guarantees regarding the property’s title or interests. The grantee assumes all risks and liabilities related to the property, making quitclaim deeds less secure than warranty deeds.

Common Situations for Using a Quitclaim Deed

Despite their lack of guarantees and warranties, quitclaim deeds are widely utilized in specific situations due to their simplicity, speed, and low cost. Some of the most common scenarios where quitclaim deeds are used are:

  1. Transferring property between family members: Quitclaim deeds are often used in transfers between family members, such as adding a spouse to a property title after marriage or transferring property to children or other relatives.
  2. Transferring property to a trust: A quitclaim deed can be utilized to transfer property ownership to a living trust, thereby allowing the property to bypass probate upon the grantor’s death.
  3. Loan refinancing: A quitclaim deed may be required by lenders when refinancing a loan, particularly in instances where multiple individuals have an interest in the property, but only one of them is acquiring the new loan.
  4. Property settlements in divorce: During a divorce, the division of assets may include the transfer of property from one spouse to another. A quitclaim deed can be used to transfer the property interest in these situations.
  5. Clearing title defects: If there is an error or ambiguity in the property title, a quitclaim deed can be used to “quiet” the title by correcting the issue and clearing any clouds on the title.

Keep in mind that quitclaim deeds should be used with caution and full knowledge of their risks and limitations. It is always a good idea to consult with a real estate attorney or expert before using a quitclaim deed in a property transfer, as the lack of warranties and guarantees can potentially leave the grantee exposed to unforeseen liabilities and issues.

Preparing a Quitclaim Deed

A quitclaim deed is a legal document used to transfer ownership or interest in a property from one party to another. This type of deed offers limited protection for the recipient as it only releases the claim that the grantor has on the property, without providing any warranties or guarantees. Quitclaim deeds are commonly used in situations such as adding a spouse’s name to a property title, transferring property between family members, or in divorce settlements.

Preparing a quitclaim deed requires attention to detail and compliance with the laws and regulations of your state. The following sections outline the steps to create a quitclaim deed, important legal terminology, necessary information for a quitclaim deed, and state-specific requirements.

Steps to Create a Quitclaim Deed

  1. Gather necessary information: Before drafting a quitclaim deed, you will need to gather pertinent information such as the legal description of the property, grantor’s and grantee’s names, mailing addresses, and the date of transfer.
  2. Choose a template: Many websites offer templates for quitclaim deeds. Ensure that the template complies with the laws and regulations of your state.
  3. Customize the template: Fill in the required information in the appropriate fields. Use the legal description of the property taken from the current deed or tax statement, and include the parcel number for easy reference.
  4. Review the quitclaim deed: Carefully read the document to ensure that all the information provided is accurate and complete.
  5. Notarize and record the deed: Once the quitclaim deed is prepared and reviewed, the grantor must sign it before a notary public. After notarization, the deed must be recorded in the land records office of the county where the property is located.

Important Legal Terminologies

  1. Grantor: The person or entity transferring their interest or claim in the property.
  2. Grantee: The person or entity receiving the interest or claim in the property.
  3. Legal description: A precise and accurate description of the property, typically involving lot numbers, block numbers, sub-division names, and geographical references.
  4. Parcel number: A unique identification number assigned to a property by local government authorities for taxation purposes.
  5. Notary public: A licensed public official who verifies the identity of the parties involved and ensures that they are aware of the contents and implications of a legal document, such as a quitclaim deed.

Required Information for a Quitclaim Deed

A quitclaim deed must include the following information:
1. Name and address of the grantor and grantee
2. Legal description of the property
3. Parcel number (if available)
4. Date of transfer
5. Consideration (the amount or value given in exchange for the transfer)
6. Grantor’s signature
7. Grantee’s acknowledgement (it is recommended but not always required)
8. Notary public’s signature and seal

State-Specific Requirements

Each state has its own set of laws and regulations governing quitclaim deeds. Therefore, it is essential to understand and comply with your state’s requirements when preparing a quitclaim deed. Some state-specific requirements may include:

  1. Filing fees: Most counties or states require payment of a filing or recording fee when submitting a quitclaim deed to the land records office.
  2. Transfer tax: Some states impose a transfer tax on properties changing hands, which may need to be paid when recording the quitclaim deed.
  3. Witness signatures: In some states, the quitclaim deed must be signed and acknowledged by one or more witnesses in addition to the notary public.
  4. Legal forms: Certain states may have specific forms or formats for quitclaim deeds that must be used.
  5. Preparer identification: Some states require the identification of the person or entity who prepared the quitclaim deed on the document itself.

Consult an attorney or local land records office for information and guidance on your state’s requirements for quitclaim deeds. Proper preparation of a quitclaim deed ensures a smooth and effective property transfer between the involved parties.

Signing and Recording a Quitclaim Deed

A quitclaim deed is a legal document that transfers property rights from one party (the grantor) to another (the grantee) without offering any guarantee or warranty for the title. It is a relatively simple and quick way to transfer property rights, mostly used within families, between spouses, or in situations where the parties involved know and trust each other. This article will discuss the process of signing and recording a quitclaim deed, including notarization, filing and recording, and fees and taxes associated with the process.

Notarization of Quitclaim Deeds

In most jurisdictions, a quitclaim deed must be notarized to be considered valid and legally binding. Notarization is the process of obtaining an acknowledgment from a public notary, who verifies the identities of the parties involved and ensures they understand and willingly sign the document.

Notaries are impartial witnesses who maintain a record of the transaction, protecting both parties from forgery or fraud. Some states require additional witnesses to be present during the signing of the quitclaim deed to further verify its legitimacy and voluntary nature. The notary will affix their seal or stamp on the document, indicating that they have performed the notarial act and verified the identities of the signatories.

In some cases, depending on the state laws, a notary may also require the grantor and grantee to swear under oath that they are signing the quitclaim deed willingly, in their right mind, and without duress or coercion.

Filing and Recording Process

Once the quitclaim deed is signed and notarized, it must be filed and recorded with the appropriate entity, usually the county recorder’s office or land registry office, in the jurisdiction where the property is located.

The recording process ensures that the transfer of property rights is documented and made public, providing notice of the change in ownership to any interested parties, such as creditors, potential buyers, or other claimants. Recording the quitclaim deed also establishes priority among different transfers of the same property, with the earlier recorded documents having precedence over later ones.

To file and record the quitclaim deed, the original or a certified copy must be submitted, along with any required accompanying documents or forms, such as a Real Estate Transfer Declaration or a Preliminary Change of Ownership Report. The office will then review the documentation for completeness and compliance with the relevant statutes before accepting it for recording.

Once the quitclaim deed is recorded, a receipt, deed book, or document number may be provided as proof of filing, and the recorded deed may be returned to the grantee or their designated representative. It is crucial to keep a copy of the recorded quitclaim deed for your records and for any potential legal disputes that may arise in the future.

Recording Fees and Taxes

Filing and recording a quitclaim deed typically involves payment of fees, which vary depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the transaction. These fees may include a flat recording fee, a per-page fee, or additional charges for specific forms or services provided by the office.

In addition to recording fees, some jurisdictions require payment of real estate transfer taxes or fees, also known as stamp taxes or documentary transfer taxes, based on the value of the property or the consideration provided by the grantee. Transfer taxes may be waived or reduced in certain situations, such as transfers between family members, spouses, or as a result of a court order.

It is essential to understand and comply with the fee and tax requirements of your jurisdiction to ensure a smooth and successful transfer of property rights through a quitclaim deed. Researching local laws or consulting with an attorney familiar with real estate transactions in your area can help you avoid delays, penalties, or other complications that may arise from non-compliance.

Risks and Limitations of Quitclaim Deeds

Quitclaim deeds are legal instruments used in real estate transactions where the grantor transfers ownership or interest in a property to the grantee without making any warranties about the quality of the title. While quitclaim deeds can be useful in certain circumstances, they also come with several risks and limitations that must be taken into account.

Unlike Warranty Deeds, Quitclaim Deeds Offer No Guarantee

One of the main risks of using a quitclaim deed is that it does not provide any guarantee of the quality of the title being transferred. With a warranty deed, the grantor warrants that they have good and marketable title to the property, meaning that the title is free from any defects or encumbrances. This provides a level of protection for the grantee, as it ensures that the property is being transferred with a clear title.

In contrast, a quitclaim deed offers no such guarantee. The grantor simply “quits” whatever interest they may have in the property, without making any representations about the quality of the title. This means that the grantee is left with little protection, as they may inherit any title defects or encumbrances that were present before the transfer. Consequently, it is crucial to conduct a thorough title search and potentially obtain title insurance to minimize the risks associated with a quitclaim deed.

Potential Title Issues

Given that quitclaim deeds do not provide a guarantee of a clear title, there is always the risk of potential title issues. These may include:

  1. Outstanding liens: A lien is a claim against a property by a creditor to secure repayment of a debt, such as a mortgage, tax lien, or judgment lien. If the grantor had any outstanding liens on the property, the grantee would inherit these liens, potentially making them responsible for the underlying debt.
  2. Easements: An easement is a legal right granted to an individual or entity to use or access someone else’s property for a specific purpose, such as a utility company having the right to access a property to service lines. If there are any easements associated with the property that were not disclosed during the transaction, they may negatively impact the value or use of the property.
  3. Multiple claimants: In some cases, multiple people may have a claim to the same property due to missing or unclear documentation. If a person with a valid claim were to come forward after the transfer, the grantee could potentially lose their ownership rights.

Effect on Mortgages and Loans

Another potential risk associated with quitclaim deeds is the effect on existing mortgages and loans. When a property is transferred using a quitclaim deed, the grantee essentially takes on the responsibility of any mortgages, loans, and other financial obligations attached to the property. This means the grantee must ensure that they have the funds to cover these costs, or they could risk foreclosure.

Moreover, many mortgages include a “due on sale” clause, which stipulates that the entire balance of the loan becomes due immediately if the property is sold or transferred without the lender’s consent. In such cases, transferring a property with a quitclaim deed could potentially trigger this clause, leading to serious financial consequences for both the grantor and grantee.

In conclusion, while quitclaim deeds can be helpful in certain situations, they come with several risks and limitations that must be carefully considered. It’s imperative to seek legal counsel and perform due diligence before proceeding with a quitclaim deed to ensure that you are not unintentionally taking on more risk than intended.

Resolving Common Issues with Quitclaim Deeds

Quitclaim deeds are legal instruments used to transfer the ownership rights in a property from one person to another. They are commonly used in cases where the grantor has limited or no interest in the property. However, since the grantor makes no guarantees about the title, quitclaim deeds can be fraught with issues, such as errors, disputes, and cancellations. This article will explore common problems associated with quitclaim deeds and how to resolve them.

Correcting Errors in Quitclaim Deeds

Errors in quitclaim deeds can range from minor typos to more serious legal issues. To correct a mistake in a quitclaim deed, the first step is to determine the nature of the error.

  1. Minor errors: These include simple misspellings, incorrect property descriptions or typographical errors. To correct a minor error, the grantor should prepare a corrective quitclaim deed, which includes a correct legal description of the property, the correct spelling of the names, and any other necessary changes. Both the grantor and grantee should sign the corrected deed. The corrected quitclaim deed should then be recorded in the same county or land records office where the original deed was recorded to provide public notice of the change.
  2. Major errors: More serious errors, such as incorrect names or incorrect legal descriptions, may require professional assistance to fix. In these cases, it is important to consult with a real estate attorney, a title company, or a land surveyor. If the error is on the part of the preparer, they may be liable for any damages resulting from the mistake.
  3. Fraud or forgery: If a quitclaim deed has been altered, tampered with, or forged, legal action may be necessary. Contact an attorney if you suspect fraud, as this legal issue may require a thorough investigation and possible litigation to resolve.

Canceling a Quitclaim Deed

Canceling a quitclaim deed can be a complex process, particularly if the deed has already been recorded. Here are some steps to follow if you want to cancel a quitclaim deed:

  1. Obtain written consent: If both the grantor and grantee agree that the quitclaim deed should be canceled, they can sign a written agreement stating their intent and the reasons for the cancellation. This document should also be notarized to ensure its authenticity.
  2. Prepare a new quitclaim deed: The parties can then create a new quitclaim deed to transfer the property’s ownership back to the original grantor. The grantee in the original deed becomes the grantor of the new deed, and the original grantor becomes the grantee.
  3. Record the new deed: File the new quitclaim deed with the appropriate county or land records office, where it will be recorded in the public record.
  4. Notify interested parties: Inform any third parties, such as banks and mortgage companies, about the cancellation and new deed. This step ensures that any claims or liens against the property are properly updated.

Disputing a Quitclaim Deed

Disputing a quitclaim deed can be a difficult and time-consuming process, as it often involves litigation. If you wish to contest a quitclaim deed, consider the following steps:

  1. Consult with an attorney: Speak with a real estate lawyer about your options and the likelihood of success in disputing the deed.
  2. Gather evidence: Collect documents, emails, or any other evidence that supports your claim that the quitclaim deed is invalid, fraudulent, or signed under duress.
  3. File a lawsuit: If your attorney determines you have a strong case, they will help you file a lawsuit to dispute the quitclaim deed. This may involve a request for a declaratory judgment, which asks the court to declare the quitclaim deed invalid.
  4. Litigation: During the litigation process, both parties will have the opportunity to present their case to the court. It may involve discovery, depositions, and expert witness testimony.
  5. Resolution: The case will ultimately be resolved by a judge or jury, who will determine whether the quitclaim deed should be set aside or upheld. If successful, the court may order the deed to be canceled and ownership of the property restored to the original owner. However, keep in mind that a dispute can be costly, lengthy, and emotionally draining for all parties involved.

Quitclaim Deeds and Estate Planning

A quitclaim deed is a legal document that transfers an individual’s ownership interest in a property to another person without providing any guarantees or warranties about the property. This can be a useful and efficient tool in estate planning, but there are certain situations and considerations to be aware of before deciding to use a quitclaim deed.

Using Quitclaim Deeds in Estate Transfers

Quitclaim deeds are often used in estate planning to transfer assets to beneficiaries or to a trust. They provide a simple and cost-effective means for asset transfers, especially when the parties involved have a close relationship. For example, parents may use a quitclaim deed to transfer a property to their children or a grantor might transfer property to a revocable living trust they established.

There are several benefits to using quitclaim deeds in such transfers:

  1. Speed and simplicity: As quitclaim deeds do not require a title search, the entire process can be completed quickly and with minimal cost. Additionally, there is no need for an attorney or escrow service, which can save both time and money.
  2. Flexibility: Quitclaim deeds can be tailored to the specific circumstances and needs of the parties involved. This means that they can include additional clauses to address specific issues or concerns, such as the right of first refusal, life estate reservation, or other provisions essential to the grantor.
  3. Privacy: Using a quitclaim deed to transfer property to a trust provides a degree of privacy in estate planning that is not always possible through other means. When done correctly, the trust can be structured so that the identity of the beneficiaries remains confidential.

However, there are also several drawbacks to using quitclaim deeds in estate planning, such as:

  1. No warranties or guarantees: By using a quitclaim deed, the grantor is not providing any warranties or guarantees on the property being transferred. This means that title issues or other potential problems may not be revealed or resolved.
  2. Potential tax implications: Transferring property through a quitclaim deed may trigger gift tax liability or other tax issues, depending on the value of the property and the circumstances of the transfer. It is essential to consult with a tax professional and attorney before using a quitclaim deed in estate planning.

Quitclaim Deeds and Divorce Settlements

A quitclaim deed can also be used to transfer ownership of a property between spouses after a divorce. In such cases, one spouse agrees to give up their ownership interest in the property to the other spouse. This can help prevent future legal disputes and simplify property division in a divorce settlement.

Some benefits of using quitclaim deeds in divorce settlements are:

  1. Convenience: Quitclaim deeds are relatively simple to execute and can finalize property transfers quickly, allowing both parties to move on with their lives.
  2. Mediation-friendly: In many cases, quitclaim deeds can be agreed upon during divorce mediation or out-of-court settlement negotiations, which can help keep costs and stress to a minimum.

However, there are some potential risks of using quitclaim deeds in divorce situations:

  1. Joint debt liability: If a mortgage or other debt is tied to the property, the grantor spouse who gives up ownership may still be held responsible for that debt. It is crucial to address this issue clearly in the divorce settlement.
  2. Title issues: As with any quitclaim deed, title issues may arise due to the lack of warranties or guarantees. These issues can lead to possible legal disputes or complications down the line.

Utilizing Quitclaim Deeds for Tax Planning Purposes

Quitclaim deeds have several potential tax advantages when used in estate planning. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Capital gains tax savings: When property is transferred through a quitclaim deed to a trust or a beneficiary, the recipient takes on the grantor’s basis in the property. This can help minimize capital gains tax liability when the recipient sells the property.
  2. Gift tax exemption: As long as the property transfer falls within the annual exclusion amount ($15,000 per recipient in 2021), the transfer will not be subject to federal gift tax.

However, it is essential to consult with a tax professional and an attorney before using a quitclaim deed for tax planning. Every individual’s tax situation is unique, and tax regulations are subject to change. Using a quitclaim deed without considering tax implications can result in unintended consequences, costs, or legal issues down the line.

Quitclaim Deeds FAQs

What is a quitclaim deed and when is it used?

A quitclaim deed is a legal document that transfers the rights, title, or interest in a property from one party (the grantor) to another (the grantee) without guaranteeing any warranties. Typically, quitclaim deeds are used in property transfers among family members, resolving title defects, or during a divorce settlement.

Is a quitclaim deed an effective way to remove someone from a property title?

Yes, a quitclaim deed can effectively remove someone from a property title. By signing the quitclaim deed, the grantor relinquishes all claims on the property, making the grantee the sole owner. This process is commonly used in divorce cases and for other family-related property transactions.

Can a quitclaim deed be used to settle disputes over property ownership?

Quitclaim deeds may be utilized in settling disputes over property ownership, as they allow parties to relinquish their claims to a specific property. However, it is best to consult legal counsel before using a quitclaim deed to resolve disputes, as it does not guarantee a clear title or resolve underlying title defects.

Does a quitclaim deed provide any warranty or guarantee on the property?

No, a quitclaim deed does not provide any warranty or guarantee on the property. The grantor only transfers their interest in the property without making any guarantees or warranties. It is essential for the grantee to perform a title search and consider purchasing title insurance to protect against potential title defects.

Does a quitclaim deed impose any financial obligations on the grantor?

A quitclaim deed does not impose any financial obligations on the grantor, as there are no warranties or guarantees offered. However, if there are existing liens or unpaid taxes on the property, the grantee would assume these financial obligations upon accepting the quitclaim deed.

What are the steps to create and record a quitclaim deed?

Creating and recording a quitclaim deed involves several steps: 1) Draft the quitclaim deed with all necessary information, such as the grantor, grantee, and legal description of the property; 2) Ensure both parties sign the deed in the presence of a notary public; 3) Pay applicable fees and submit the signed deed to the county recorder’s office; and 4) Obtain a recorded copy of the deed for safekeeping.

About the Author

As a native Washingtonian, Carlos Reyes’ journey in the real estate industry began more than 15 years ago when he started an online real estate company. Since then, he’s helped more than 700 individuals and families as a real estate broker achieve their real estate goals across Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

Carlos now helps real estate agents grow their business by teaching business fundamentals, execution, and leadership.

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