A quitclaim deed – often wrongly called a “quick” claim deed – is relatively simple and quick to draft and file. That’s not to say, however, that you want to undertake the challenge lightly. It’s still a deed, carrying serious legal implications, so consider having a local attorney look it over when you’ve finished. An attorney can answer your specific quitclaim deed in Florida questions as well.
When a Quitclaim Deed Is Appropriate
The catch with a quitclaim deed is that there’s a possibility that it doesn’t actually convey ownership of anything. The grantor – the individual giving ownership or title to someone else – makes no guarantee in this type of deed that he actually does own the property he’s transferring. He's actually saying, "If I do, it's yours."
Title to the property may or may not be clear. And if it’s not, or if the grantor has no right to convey the property in the first place, the grantee gets nothing and has no legal recourse to set things straight.
You wouldn’t want to accept title to a property you’re buying in this way, so quitclaim deeds are predominantly used to transfer property between individuals who know each other. You might use a Florida quitclaim deed form in a divorce situation, between beneficiaries after a death or to transfer property into your living trust. Money doesn’t usually change hands.
Florida Quitclaim Deed Rules
Florida quitclaim deeds must include certain information: the name and address of whomever actually prepared the deed, as well as the names and mailing addresses of the grantor and the grantee. The grantor must sign the deed on a line under which her printed name appears.
You’ll need two witnesses for each grantor, so if two people are conveying the property, you’ll need four witnesses. They must also sign on lines under which their names are printed. Finally, a notary must witness the signing and sign it himself and include all pertinent information regarding his commission.
Using a Florida Quitclaim Deed Form
These requirements aren’t particularly stringent, but a lot can go wrong. For example, if you use two colors of ink or cross out or add anything in handwriting, the deed might not be upheld as valid in a dispute.
If the matter goes to court, the grantee – the person receiving the property – has the burden of proof to establish that the quitclaim deed is legitimate, and she should own the property in question. You might want to use a Florida quitclaim deed form in your divorce or other personal situation rather than draft your own to safeguard against these problems.
How to File a Quitclaim Deed in Florida
There’s no actual requirement that you must file a quitclaim deed in Florida, but the state does require notice that ownership of the property has changed hands and filing the deed accomplishes this. The deed is also borderline useless if you don’t record it. For example, if a third party such as a creditor attempts to seize the property to pay the grantor’s debt, an unrecorded deed offers no type of protection in this situation.
You should file the original deed with the recorder in the county where the property is located.
Paying Taxes on a Florida Quitclaim Deed
Although money doesn’t usually change hands, this isn’t to say that entering into a quitclaim deed is entirely free. You must pay a transfer tax, called a “documentary stamp tax” in Florida, to the clerk of the court. The tax is 70 cents per each $100 of the sales price in most Florida counties.
You might dodge this bullet if you’re giving the property away for free, but consult with a local attorney if you’re transferring it in a divorce or probate situation. The property might have some value assigned to it in these situations.
And this rule changes if there’s a mortgage against the property. In this case, the documentary stamp tax is based not on any payment made for acquisition of the property, but rather on the mortgage balance against it – 70 cents per each $100 of half the outstanding balance.
Does a Quitclaim Deed Remove Me From a Mortgage?
Not only does a quitclaim not remove you from liability for a mortgage, but it can potentially call the whole mortgage balance due if the mortgage has a “due on sale” clause. This type of clause demands that the mortgage be paid off when and if ownership of the property is transferred.
Check your mortgage contract to be sure, even if you’re just entering into the deed to add your spouse to the title.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally for over 30 years. She is also a paralegal, specializing in areas of personal finance, bankruptcy and estate law. She writes as the tax expert for The Balance.