While deeds may vary slightly in format, there are certain essential elements that must be included to convey property unquestionably. Language in a deed may also vary, depending on the intentions of the parties. Some deeds may recite restrictions, reservations and encumbrances related to the property, while others may contain just enough information to legally complete the transfer.
Grantor and Grantee Names
For property to transfer from one person to another, there must be a grantor and grantee named in a deed. In a sale, the grantor is the seller and the grantee is the buyer. A grantor should use the same name to transfer property that he used to acquire it, and a grantee should make sure that he is acquiring title in a correct name. If the grantee is taking title in the name of his business, he should be certain that the business is properly formed. Property doesn’t transfer to an entity that hasn’t established a legal existence. It is also wise to title property in the complete name of an individual, such as with a “Jr.” or “Sr.” designation to avoid future confusion over whether father or son owns the property.
Method of Holding Title
Language in a deed determines how the grantee owns the property. In the case of multiple grantees, they may take title as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. If two or more people own property with rights of survivorship, it means that upon the death of one, the property automatically transfers to the survivor. Without those survivorship provisions, property ownership passes through the estate of a deceased individual.
One essential element that may be inadvertently omitted when recording a deed is the legal description. The preparer of the deed may intend to attach a lengthy legal description as an exhibit to the deed but neglects to do so prior to recording. If the property is not described in the deed, it cannot transfer to the new grantee.
Warranties and Exceptions
A large majority of deeds are general warranty deeds in which the grantor warrants or guarantees the property title to the grantee. Encumbrances such as restrictions on the property, reservations of minerals, or easements will often appear on the deed as exceptions to the warranties being given. Types of deeds that do not offer warranties, or offer only limited warranties, are quitclaim deeds and statutory warranty deeds. While warranty deeds convey property with the words "grant, bargain, sell and convey," quitclaim deeds usually convey with language similar to "remise, release, quitclaim and convey." A statutory warranty deed offers warranties from the date the seller received the property until he transfers it but not prior to that time. Quitclaim deeds offer no title warranties.
Execution and Acknowledgement
The grantor must sign the deed, usually in the presence of a notary public who is familiar with acknowledgements in the state. The grantor or the notary public should also date the deed on the day of signing. If a notary acknowledgement is defective or doesn’t meet state requirements, a correction deed may be required at a later date to correct the conveyance. State laws vary as to whether additional witnesses are needed.
- Stewart Virtual Underwriter: 4.16 Deeds of Conveyance
- LoneStarLandLaw.com: Deeds in Texas
- Social Security: SI ATL01110.510 Shared Ownership (RTN 12-01 – 03/2012)
- The Florida Bar Journal: Five Tips Every Real Estate Practitioner Should Know About Defective Deeds
- University of Arkansas at Little Rock: Deed Covenants of Title and the Preparation of Deeds: Theory, Law, and Practice in Arkansas
- National Notary Association, Notary Bulletin: Hotline Tip, How Many Witnesses Need To Sign A Grant Deed?
- Florida Housing Coalition. "Sample Warranty Deed." Accessed March 30, 2020.
- Sacramento County Public Law Library. "Sample Grant Deed." Accessed March 30, 2020.
- Sacramento County Public Law Library. "Sample Quitclaim Deed." Accessed March 30, 2020.
- Sacramento County Public Law Library. "Sample Interspousal Transfer Deed." Accessed March 30, 2020.
Marie Murdock has been employed in the legal and title insurance industries for over 25 years. Murdock was first published in print in 1979 and has been writing online articles since mid-2010. Her articles have appeared on LegalZoom and various other websites.