What Is a Quitclaim Deed?
For example, if two brothers jointly own a restaurant, one of them can only transfer his half of the ownership. If he wishes to get out of the business, he may want to quickly and easily transfer his ownership to his brother without going through a laborious sale process—making a quitclaim deed the easiest option.
When to Use a Quitclaim Deed
Here are some examples of when a quitclaim deed might be used:
- Family transfers: Quitclaim deeds make it easy to transfer ownership to parents or children, siblings, or other closely related family members.
- Marriage or divorce: The property owner can use a quitclaim to add a new spouse or remove an ex-spouse from the property title.
- Owner name change: When the owner’s name changes, they must change the deed information so that the name change is reflected on the title.
- Transferring ownership to a business: Transferring real property to corporations and LLCs is a common method of protecting those assets from creditors, or limiting personal liability.
- Transferring ownership to a trust: If there’s a property you hope to pass down through the generations, a good first step is a quitclaim deed transferring it into a trust.
- Removing a title cloud: Title companies may find a “cloud” during a title search. This means a third party may have an interest in the property which has not been accounted for, causing a possible break in the chain of title. The title insurance company will require that party to quitclaim their interest in the property before issuing a policy.
- Gifts: Quitclaim deeds can be used to give property to family and friends—although make sure to check with a lawyer.
- Error correction: Misspelled names or other minor errors can be corrected using a quitclaim deed.
Quitclaim Deed vs. Warranty Deed
Conversely, a general warranty deed guarantees that there are no parties outside of the seller which can claim a property as theirs. Nor are there any previous debts or liens against the property, with the exception of those already informed to the buyer. The warranty deed provides the grantee protections that quitclaim deeds do not.
Most notably, a warranty deed is transferred after a title search has been conducted, so the buyers can be certain the property has a clean title history. Title insurance can be purchased with a warranty deed, too, and it protects the buyer if there are complications thereafter.
With a general warranty deed, the seller promises:
- They have the right to convey the property
- They can and will defend the property title against claims
- They have ownership of the property
- There are no encumbrances against the property unless stated otherwise in the deed.
How to Create a Quitclaim Deed
It’s essential that the grantor signs the notarized quitclaim form. Depending on the state, witnesses may be required; they may require the new owner to sign, too. In most states, the property deed must be recorded with the appropriate county clerk office.
Taxes and Quitclaim Deeds
There are no tax requirements if the property is transferred to charity, as long as it has a clean title history.
How Does a Quitclaim Deed Affect Existing Mortgages?
For example, it’s common for divorcing spouses to use a quitclaim deed to transfer the property to the spouse who intends to keep the property. However, this doesn’t eliminate either spouse’s name from the mortgage, assuming there is one, so they’re both still liable for the balance. The grantee can either assume the mortgage with the lender or refinance the property and pay off the initial loan.