When you sign a quitclaim deed, you're giving up any rights you have, or may have, in a property to the party that gets the deed. Frequently, quitclaim deeds are used to title property to yourself -- like when you put property into a trust -- or to clear up title problems -- like removing yourself from the ownership of a property granted to your ex-spouse in a divorce. Whatever the reason that you're using the deed, though, it's only valid if you properly describe the property being deeded.
Enter the property's parcel number in the appropriate blank on the deed, if it's required. The place for the number could be labeled with "APN" or "PIN," each of which stand for assessor's parcel number and parcel identification number. In other parts of the country, it may be labeled "TMS" for Tax Map Sequence.
Locate the legal description on your old deed. A legal description will either have a reference to lots, blocks, pages and other documents with numbers, or will have a description of your land's boundaries relative to other pieces of land or relative to landmarks. Some will have both types of legal description. If you don't have the deed, you may also be able to find a legal description on an old title report or on an old survey. If you don't have these, contact a title company for assistance -- they may be able to look it up for you. Alternately, you may be able to view it yourself at the courthouse or, if your county offers the service, look up the documents online.
Copy the old deed's description into the area on your quitclaim deed for the legal description. When you copy it, ensure that every letter, number and punctuation mark makes it over; the copy must be exact. Legal descriptions are written in very specific language and words that might seem to mean the same things, like "commencing" and "beginning" actually have very different meanings in a description.
Run your deed by an attorney. In some states, the deed actually has to be written by an attorney to be valid. In others, it has to have special language like a derivation clause that specifies which recorded document gave you the ownership rights that you're quitclaiming away.
- Sacramento County Law Library: Sample Quitclaim Deed With Instructions
- California Department of Transportations: Guidelines for Writing Legal Descriptions.
- HG.org. "Contracts 101—Warranty vs Quitclaim Deeds." Accessed Aug. 12, 2020.
- Realtor.com. "When Do You Need to Get a Quitclaim Deed?' Accessed Aug. 12, 2020.
- DivorceNet. "Interspousal Transfers Versus Quit Claim Deeds." Accessed Aug. 12, 2020.
- California State Board of Equalization. "Property Ownership and Deed Recording," Page 7. Accessed Aug. 13, 2020.
Steve Lander has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. His work has appeared in trade publications such as the "Minnesota Real Estate Journal" and "Minnesota Multi-Housing Association Advocate." Lander holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.