A Quitclaim Deed is a legally binding document used to efficiently transfer property (real estate) from one person (or entity) to another person (or entity).
With a quitclaim deed, the grantor (person transferring the property) transfers whatever rights and legal interest they have in the property. The grantor is only promising to give up their rights. There are no warranties as to the quality of the real estate title.
This means that granteees (persons receiving the property) aren’t fully protected with quitclaim deed transfers. They won’t get full ownership if there is an outstanding lien or other legal claim against the property.
As a result of the risk of no title assurances, quitclaim deeds are usually only used in real estate when transferring property between two people who trust one another, such as family members or to correct a mistake with the owner’s title to the property (cure a title defect).
State-Specific Quitclaim Deeds
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
What is a Quitclaim Deed?
A quitclaim deed form (or quitclaim) is a legal real estate document for the grantor (owner/seller) to transfer ownership rights of a piece of real property to the grantee (purchaser).
Without this document, the new owner may be unable to record and prove their property ownership.
Quitclaim Deed vs. Warranty Deed vs. Special Warranty
Unlike quitclaim deeds, some deeds offer protection and warranties for the grantee.
The most common types are special warranty and general warranty deeds.
In special warranty and warranty deeds, the grantor owns the property rightfully and has the legal right to transfer property title and warrant against certain title defects.
Here is a table comparing the three most common types of property deed transfer forms:
|Quitclaim Deed||Special Warranty Deed||General Warranty Deed|
|Warranties||NO warranties as to the quality of title||Warrants against ONLY those defects caused by the current grantor||Warrants against ALL defects, even those not caused by the current grantor|
|Period Covered||None||Only when the current grantor owned the property||The property’s entire history|
|Most Common Use||When little to no money is exchanged - estate plans, divorce, fixing title defects||When money is exchanged - trusts, fiduciaries, tax sales, commercial real estate sales||When money is exchanged - purchasing a home, obtaining a mortgage|
And here are three less common (but still important) types of property deed transfer forms used in certain circumstances:
A grant deed, also known as a limited warranty deed in some states, is used in states such as California in place of a quitclaim deed when transferring property to non-relatives. It is also an appropriate real estate form when the transaction is a tax or foreclosure sale.
Typically, the grantor guarantees they didn’t transfer title to anyone else, and the property has no undisclosed liens or encumbrances. However, a grant deed or limited warranty deed doesn’t provide any other warranties.
Bargain and Sale Deed
Certain states, such as New York and Washington, use a bargain and sale deed.
The grantor guarantees title to the property but doesn’t provide any warranties or guarantees that the property is free of claims.
Lady Bird Deed
Florida uses lady bird deeds and Texas utilizes this special warranty deed (also called an enhanced life estate deed), as do several other states, to allow a grantor to retain a life estate with very few restrictions while receiving certain tax benefits.
Review all the different types of deeds in detail to ensure you have selected the right one for your real estate transfer or sale.
What is the Purpose of a Quitclaim Deed?
The purpose of a quitclaim deed is to quickly and easily transfer property ownership from one party to another.
Although this document provides no promises regarding ownership or title to the property, many states have an implied good faith presumption that the grantor is unaware of any other owners or conflicts.
Additionally, some states have an implied good faith assumption that the grantor is free to transfer ownership and title.
Keep in mind that a quitclaim deed transfers ownership of a property only. Therefore, if the grantor has a real estate mortgage on the property, they’re still responsible and liable for that mortgage.
How Does a Quitclaim Deed Work?
A quitclaim deed form conveys title and whatever ownership the grantor has in the property if any. Here are the different types of ownership it might convey:
- Sole Ownership – owned entirely by one party (individual or entity)
- Joint Tenancy – owned equally by two or more people with the right of survivorship (if one dies, ownership passes to the surviving person), and each person must agree to sell their legal interests in the property
- Tenancy by the Entirety – a joint tenancy between a legally married couple
- Tenancy in Common – owned by two or more people (equally or in different percentages) with no right of survivorship and the right to individually sell their legal interests in the property
- Community Property – any property obtained by one spouse during a marriage is “community property” and owned by both spouses, currently recognized in 10 states in the U.S.
When to Use a Quitclaim Deed
Property owners mostly use quitclaim deeds for intra-family transfers, estate planning, or to cure a title defect.
Here are some examples:
- Divorce: an ex-spouse releases claim to the home to the other formerly married party after a divorce settlement
- Marriage: spouse wants to add their new spouse on the title to the property
- Chain of Title Defect: title insurance companies find others with potential interests in the property and ask them to waive interest in the property
- Title Defect: fix any errors such as misspelled names or other clerical mistakes
- Family Member: parent wants to transfer title to a child, or a person transfers property between other family members like siblings
- Estate Planning: person transfers property to a living trust
- Business: quitclaim deed transfers between parent companies to subsidiaries
- Public Auction Sale: tax/public auction sale where the buyer assumes the risk of a defective title
What to Include in a Quitclaim Deed
There are several things to consider when creating your quitclaim deed form. Refer to these helpful tips below before you write your document.
A simple quitclaim deed should identify the following essential elements:
- Grantor: the name and mailing address of the individual(s) or entity who currently owns the property and will transfer ownership
- Grantee: the name and mailing address of the individual(s) or entity who will receive the property title and become the new property owner
- Consideration: how much, if anything, is being paid for the property
- Location: the city and county of the property
- Legal Description: a land description in words that uniquely identifies a particular piece of property (usually listed on the prior deed)
- Parcel Number: the number assigned by the tax assessor (usually listed on your property tax statement)
- Preparer: the name and mailing address of the person who prepared the document
- Signatures: the signature of the grantor and grantee, and the date of the signatures. Depending on your state’s laws, the grantee may not be required to sign
- Witnesses: the individual(s) who watch the grantor and grantee sign the quitclaim deed. Note that depending on the laws of your state, there could be anywhere from zero to two witnesses required
- Notary: a notary public who verifies that the signatures are authentic
In addition to the above basic provisions, here are some additional terms you may want to include if they apply to your property:
- Easements: the grantor can reserve the right to continue using a portion of the land, such as access to a private road or fishing pond
- Encumbrances: any encumbrances (claims or liens) against the property the grantor is aware of
- Life Estate: the grantor can reserve a life estate interest in the property, usually for tax purposes, allowing them continued use of the property until their death
- Mineral Rights: the grantor can reserve all or a portion of any remaining interest in the property’s subsurface oil, gas, or other mineral rights
Certain words on a quitclaim deed form may inadvertently create warranties. Before signing, check your state’s laws and regulations regarding exactly what these words mean.
How to File a Quitclaim Deed
You should file the quitclaim deed with your local county recorder’s office (see table below) to create an official public record of the transfer of ownership, give public notice, and prioritize the grantee’s claim of ownership.
While filing with the local county recorder or clerk does not guarantee a perfect title, it does create a public record of your claim to ownership.
Check with your local county clerk regarding additional forms you might need to file with your quitclaim deed, such as a Preliminary Change of Ownership or a Property Transfer form.
Also, ask about transfer taxes or fees associated with the transfer and filing.
Review our state-specific quitclaim deed pages and forms for more detailed information on filing a quitclaim deed in your state.How to Write a Quitclaim Deed
Before filling out your quitclaim deed form, write your state at the top of the document.
Legal Templates suggests you use a state-specific quitclaim deed form as a best practice.
Step 1 – Fill in Preparer and Recipient Name and Address
1. Preparer. Provide the full name and address of the individual preparing or writing the quitclaim deed. The preparer may be the grantor, grantee, or a third party.
2. Recipient. Write the name and address of the person who should receive the recorded deed and tax statements after recording.
Step 2 – Enter Effective Date and Grantor(s) Details
3. Effective Date. Fill in the full name of the grantor(s), the property’s current owner. Indicate if the grantor(s) is an individual, individuals, a married couple, or an entity (i.e., corporation, LLC, partnership, or trust).
4. Grantor(s). Provide the mailing address for the grantor(s). If there is more than one grantor, provide just one mailing address for the purpose of receiving correspondence).
Step 3 – Fill in Grantee(s) Details
5. Grantee(s). Write the full name of the grantee(s), the individual or entity that will become the new owner. Indicate if the grantee(s) is an individual, individuals, a married couple, or an entity (i.e., corporation, LLC, partnership, or trust).
Step 4 – Identify Transfer and Property Details
6. Consideration. Enter the amount of money paid as consideration for the real estate transfer. If the property is transferred as a gift, you can specify a nominal amount, such as $10 as consideration.
7. County and State. Write the county and state where the property is located. Specify whether or not the property is in an unincorporated area.
8. Legal Description. A legal description is a geographical description commonly identified by a government survey, metes and bounds, or lot and block. You can find this description in the property’s deed or through the county assessor.
Step 5 – Choose Ownership Option and Exceptions
9. Ownership. Specify how the new owners will hold the property. We have included the most common forms of property ownership on our form.
10. Exceptions. State whether or not there are any exceptions to the property, such as an easement (reserve right to continue using a portion of land), covenant, reserve life estate, or mineral rights.
Step 6 – Identify Homestead Option
11. Homestead. Check whether or not the property is the grantor’s homestead. Generally, a homestead is a person’s primary residence.
Step 7 – Choose Transfer Tax Option
12. Transfer Tax. Specify whether or not the property transfer is exempt from transfer tax. Refer to your state or local laws as many states provide various exemptions from transfer tax, such as transfers between parent and child. If not exempt, specify the transfer tax the grantor or grantee will pay for the transfer.
Step 8 – Identify Witnesses
13. Witnesses. Depending on the property’s state, one or two witnesses need to sign the deed. Check your local state law to see if any witnesses need to sign.
Quitclaim Deed Sample (Word & PDF)
Below you can find a sample of what a quitclaim deed typically looks like:
If a quick, simple transfer of real property is all you need, you may be able to use a do-it-yourself quitclaim deed.
Our blank, printable quitclaim deed template allows an owner to transfer and quitclaim their right and title to real property to a new owner. It also provides for exceptions such as easements or life estates.
If you would rather have step-by-step guidance, use our document builder that walks you through the process of creating a quitclaim deed unique to your situation. Our builder assists you through the document creation process in a simple way that makes sense and saves time.
Quitclaim Deed FAQs
Some states have homestead requirements where a spouse cannot sell or transfer the homestead without the signature or acknowledgment of the other spouse.
In addition, spouses may have inheritance, or dower and curtesy rights, if the property is community property. If only one spouse is the grantor and the one signing the quitclaim deed, the other spouse should sign an acknowledgment waiving and releasing any possible residual rights.
After the grantor transfers property ownership, the obligation to pay the property taxes falls to the grantee. The appropriate government entities will mail tax bills to the address on the deed.
Some states impose a real estate transfer tax on property transfers. The transfer tax is usually a small percentage of the consideration or purchase price. However, most states provide various exemptions from the transfer tax, such as transfers between parents and children.
Other taxes such as federal income, gift, or inheritance tax may accompany a quitclaim deed transfer. Consult a tax lawyer or certified public accountant, or research other legal services, to learn more about how to use a quitclaim deed for your real estate goal.