Quitclaim deeds are a legally binding document that transfers one party’s interest in a property to a second party. Although the process legally transfers the property to the new owner, it’s not as clean of a divestiture of the property as formally selling and transferring the deed would be. Depending upon your situation, transferring property using quitclaim deeds may be a perfect solution or a problem in the making.
Benefit of DIY Affordability
Because quitclaim deeds are generally one size fits all, you don’t need a lawyer to draw one up for you. Instead of incurring hundreds of dollars in legal fees, many quitclaim deed kits are available for purchase or download for less than $25, as of 2019. Some websites even offer free downloads for quitclaim deed forms, but you'll want to make sure that the form you use is compliant with your state's laws.
Benefit of Easy Filing
Completing a quitclaim deed is simple once you purchase a kit and provide the necessary information to complete the form. The grantor must sign the deed in the presence of a notary, and in a handful of states, the grantee must also sign the document. After it’s signed and notarized, simply turn the deed into your county clerk to make the transfer official.
Benefit of Flexibility
Quitclaim deeds’ relatively nonspecific nature allows them to work in a variety of situations, from adding a spouse’s name to property after a marriage or transferring property to a trust or a company.
Downside of No Guarantee
A quitclaim deed only transfers the grantee’s share of the property to the grantor. This isn’t an issue in instances where the property is owned by a single owner or when one owner is relinquishing a partial share to the other owner, as in the case of divorce proceedings. If ownership is convoluted or claims against the property such as liens exist, a quitclaim deed doesn’t guarantee the new owner will be free of those complications.
Downside of Potentially Fraudulent
It’s a lot easier for criminals to fake a quitclaim deed on a property upon which they have no rightful claim. Investigate the legitimacy of claims of ownership if you have any doubts about the transaction before exchanging funds for the quitclaim deed.
Downside of Irreversible Action
Once you complete and file a quitclaim deed, you no longer own the property, and in most cases, there is no recourse if you change your mind about the transaction. Although the grantor may use a quitclaim to transfer the property back to your possession, it’s voluntary, and he can’t be forced, save in instances of fraud.
Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.