A quitclaim deed is one of three legal documents allowed by Florida state law to convey title to property located in the state. A quitclaim deed is the simplest method of re-conveyance for a seller, but it provides the least amount of legal protection for a buyer.
Deeds are legal documents that transfer title to real estate from one person to another, or from one company to another. Deeds create a chain of title that allows for the tracing of ownership by indexes based on properties, grantors and grantees. The person conveying title is referred to as the "grantor" while the person receiving title is the "grantee."
A quitclaim deed is typically a simple one-page document signed by the grantor. The deed will identify the grantor and the grantee, and the property being transferred. A notary public must verify the grantor's signature on the quitclaim deed. Additionally, a signed copy of the deed must be recorded in the county property records. The property records are made available for public review and research.
A quitclaim deed is the only way to transfer property title without providing a guarantee or warranty of title. The only other type of deed available under Florida law, which is the warranty deed, contains warranties and guarantees of title from the grantor to the grantee. A quitclaim deed does not. A quitclaim deed simply transfers whatever interest the grantor has in the property to the grantee. The grantor may actually have no interest at all, which means the quitclaim deed is worthless because the grantee has no recourse against a grantor on a quitclaim deed.
Most purchasers should not readily or willingly accept a quitclaim deed in any standard real estate purchase transaction. Instead, the custom in Florida is to receive a warranty deed in the form prescribed by Florida statute. Quitclaim deeds are generally used for inter-family transfers, transfers to living trusts or transfers that are not a result of arms-length negotiations. At the very least, if you want to accept a quitclaim deed, then you should consider purchasing an owner's policy of title insurance so that the title insurer verifies the grantor actually has an interest in the property.
The Constitution Guru has worked as a writer and editor for "BYU Law Review" and "BYU Journal of Public Law." He is an experienced attorney with a law degree and a B.A. degree in history with an emphasis on U.S. Constitutional history, both earned at Brigham Young University.