Most real estate title transfers are by a written deed. A deed transfers property from the "grantor," or owner, to the new owner, or "grantee." Sellers convey most titles by warranty deeds, which offer some level of guarantee that the title is good. They also make the grantor potentially liable if there is a title problem. A quitclaim deed offers no such protection.
By signing a quitclaim deed, a grantor gives up any title he has to the property in question, according to Bankrate. That does not mean the grantor has any claim to the land. It only means that whatever claim he did have goes to the grantee. This is a simple way to transfer property within the family; from the grantor to his living trust; or for a divorcing spouse to give up any claim on his wife's house.
A quitclaim deed must meet the same requirements as all deeds, the Nolo legal website states. All states require deeds to include the names of the grantee and grantor; a statement that the deed transfers title; the address and legal description of the property; the consideration, if any, being given in exchange for the title; and the grantor's notarized signature. Individual states may have added requirements, such as having the document witnessed. Failure to fill out the deed according to state law could invalidate it.
Misidentifying the property on a quitclaim or warranty deed could pose serious problems, the Bankrate website notes. If there are inaccurate boundaries described on the deed, the grantee taking ownership could wind up building a fence or planting crops on someone else's land. Later, when the grantee decides to transfer title to someone else, an inaccurate legal description could raise questions about what, exactly, she has the title to.
The most significant point about a quitclaim deed is it frees the grantor of any liability regarding the title. If the grantor neglected to mention a lien against the property for back taxes, or sold jointly owned property without consent of his co-owners, it is the grantee's problem.
One thing a quitclaim deed does not do, the U.S. Legal website states, is transfer responsibility for a mortgage. If the grantor still owes money on the mortgage at the time he conveys title to the grantee, the mortgage debt remains the grantor's responsibility.
- U.S. Legal: Quitclaim Deed Definition
- Bankrate: Understanding Quitclaim Deeds
- Nolo: Deeds FAQ
- Real Estate Lawyers: Quitclaim Deed Overview
- 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.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.