Quitclaim deeds are sometimes referred to as “quick claim” deeds, and for good reason. They’re efficient and they get the job done with minimum fuss. They transfer title from one individual – the grantor – to one or more others, called grantees.
But that’s about all they can do, and sometimes they can't even do that, depending on what exactly the grantor owns to convey.
What Is a Virginia Quit Claim Deed?
A quitclaim deed makes no claim that the grantor has any right to convey the property he’s transferring. It effectively says, “If I own this, it’s yours. Oh, and by the way, I’m not sure if there are any liens against it.”
In Virginia and elsewhere, these deeds are generally only used when all parties involved have firsthand knowledge of the property’s ownership and clear title – or the lack of clear title. Otherwise, the grantee might be accepting responsibility for a lien against the property that she knows nothing about, or she might receive something that the grantor has no right to give her so it hasn’t legally been transferred to her at all.
Maybe you’re relinquishing your share of the marital home to your ex after a divorce. A quitclaim deed would be appropriate because it will legally take your name off the title so you no longer have an ownership stake in the property. Quitclaim deeds are also commonly used to move ownership of property into a living trust or to transfer ownership to a living heir.
Virginia Requirements for Quit Claim Deeds
The rules for quitclaim deeds aren’t set by federal law, but rather by each individual state. Virginia law requires that the deed should state something along the lines of “the said grantor releases to the said grantee all his claims upon the said lands.” This has the effect of prohibiting the grantor from ever attempting to claim the property again.
The grantor’s and grantee’s last names should be capitalized or underlined. A legal description of the property must be included, and there should be a statement regarding how the grantor came to be in possession of the property. The deed should be notarized – both parties must sign the deed in the presence of a notary public, who will also sign it.
Your safest bet might be to simply purchase a quitclaim deed form, but make sure it’s designed specifically to meet Virginia law.
Quitclaim Deeds and Transfer Taxes
Quitclaim deeds aren't automatically exempt from transfer taxes in Virginia, but it can vary by county. These taxes are normally based upon the sales price of a property, but quitclaim deeds don’t generally transfer property for monetary consideration. In this case, the tax would be based on the value of the property, but some counties might make exceptions from taxation under certain circumstances so check with your particular county to be sure.
How Do I File a Quit Claim Deed in Virginia?
Your quitclaim deed might not do you much good if it’s not on record with the state, so you should file it as soon as it’s officially signed. Otherwise, it can’t protect against any future claims on the property. Keep a copy for your personal records.
File your deed with the circuit court clerk in the county where the property is located. There will probably be a filing fee so call ahead to find out how much it is in your particular county. Keep in mind that anyone can look up the deed and view its terms after it’s been registered with the court clerk.
Virginia Loans and Quit Claim Deeds
Virginia quitclaim deeds can only transfer property, assuming that the grantor actually has an ownership interest to relinquish to the grantee. If there’s a mortgage against the property, that encumbrance will remain in full force, unaffected by the deed. If the mortgage is in your name, you’ll remain responsible for paying and satisfying it even if you transfer the property using a quitclaim deed.
There’s a fix for this dilemma, however. By refinancing the mortgage or any other loan or lien against the property, you can effectively pay off your obligation and replace it with a new loan that the new owner is solely responsible for paying.
- Kurylo, Gold & Josey: Understanding Virginia Quitclaim Laws
- Nupp Legal: Commonwealth of Virginia Quit Claim Deed
- Bankrate: What You Should Know About Quitclaim Deeds
- Prince William County, Virginia: Deeds/Land Records
- LIS Virginia Law: Code of Virginia
- Quitclaim deed - Wikipedia
- eForms: Virginia Quitclaim Deed Form
- Laws: Quit Claim Deed in Virginia
- Docracy: Virginia Quitclaim Deed
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.