U.S. Markets closed

What Is a Quitclaim Deed?

Danielle Klimashousky
Quitclaim Deed

A quitclaim deed, sometimes referred to as a non-warranty deed, is a document used to transfer interest in a property. Common terms utilized alongside quitclaim deeds are “grantor” and “grantee.” In this context, a grantor is the one transferring the interest and a grantee is the one receiving the interest. For the most part, family members use quitclaim deeds in real estate transfers. They are also often included in wills. If you need help drafting a quitclaim deed or managing other matters that involve the transfer of assets, consider finding a financial advisor in your area for hands-on guidance.

Quitclaim Deeds vs. General Warranty Deeds

To understand what a quitclaim deed is, it’s useful first to understand general warranty deeds. A general warranty deed is the most common type of deed in real estate sales transactions. It is used to warrant the good state of the title. This means it guarantees that the person transferring the title is the owner of the property and has the right to transfer the property to you.

With a general warranty deed, there is no one outside of the grantor (the person selling the property to you) who can claim the property as his or hers. It also guarantees that there are no debts or liens against the property except those that have already been made clear to the buyer. In other words, the deed provides the buyer with protection, or warranty, against those things.

By contrast, a quitclaim deed contains no warranties. All it does is transfer whatever interest the grantor has in the property over to the other person. There is no guarantee against the fact that the other owners have the ability to claim the property. And there’s no protection against debts and liens on the property. It’s even possible that the grantor does not actually own the property.

Being that a quitclaim deed looks to simplify the real estate transfer process, there are a plethora of different circumstances in which you can utilize one. Here’s a list of some of these situations:

  • When transferring property to a child or another family member
  • To pass on property through your will
  • To add your spouse to the property’s title
  • To remove your ex-spouse from the property’s title
  • When transferring property to a business

How Do Quitclaim Deeds Affect Mortgages?

It is important to note that a quitclaim deed has no effect on a mortgage. A quitclaim transfers a property’s title but any mortgage the grantor has will not transfer. This is particularly dangerous if the grantor’s mortgage includes a due-on-sale clause, as the clause will require the grantor to pay the entire remaining balance of the mortgage once the title changes hands.

Even if the grantor assumes the grantee will take over mortgage payments, the grantor has no legal recourse if the grantee stops making payments. If you need to transfer a mortgage and you feel that a quitclaim loan is the best deed option, create a legal agreement stating that the grantee will take over the payments.

Who Should Use a Quitclaim Deed

Quitclaim Deed

In general, quitclaims are useful in situations where you want to transfer ownership (or someone’s claim to a property) without exchanging any money. Because of the lack of warranty, you should usually only use a quitclaim deed with someone you know and trust. This often applies to family matters. For example, a parent who is moving to a retirement community may quitclaim his or her house to a child. This way the child gets the rights to the property. Presumably, the child already understands the condition of the house.

Other common situations for a quitclaim deed include when someone gets married or divorced. In those cases, a homeowner wants to add or remove a spouse to the title. As another example, let’s say you are buying a home and an ex-spouse of the grantor still has his or her name on the home title, even though only the grantor cares for the the home. This is a case where you might ask the ex-spouse to sign a quitclaim to remove her the title.

You may also use a quitclaim deed to clear a cloud on the title. This is a simple defect like an issue with wording or a misspelling.

How to Create a Quitclaim Deed

Quitclaim deeds are relatively simple documents, and you can create your own easily. With that being said, any deed is a legal document. Therefore it’s best to consult with an attorney who can draft your deed, or at least review it before signing.

If you prefer the DIY approach, there are many free quitclaim deed templates available online. They often come in PDF form, so simply download the PDF and print it. From here you can fill out the paperwork by hand. In some cases, the PDF may allow for typing, meaning you can fill out the blanks prior to printing it.

Any form you use should state that it is a quitclaim deed. Include the grantor’s name, the grantee’s name and the address of the property that the grantor is transferring. The deed must state that the grantor is quitting any interest in the property and transferring that interest to the grantee. Both parties then need to sign the deed with a notary public. Some states require a second witness.

To transfer the property officially, the grantee must take the signed deed to the title company, who issues a new property title with the grantor’s name changed to the grantee’s name. Then the grantee must bring the new title to the county clerk to record the transfer.

Bottom Line

Quitclaim Deed

A quitclaim deed is a way to transfer property from one person (the grantor) to another. With a quitclaim deed, the person issuing the deed gives up his or her claim on the property, whatever that claim may be. However, there are no guarantees to protect the buyer in case there are liens, debts or other issues with the property title. It’s best to accept a quitclaim deed only from someone you know and trust. This often means that family members use quitclaims. A quitclaim is also a useful way to correct mistakes on a title or to change the names on a title without exchanging any money. An important note is that quitclaim deeds do not affect your mortgage payments. The grantor is still on the hook for any mortgage agreement.

Tips for Buying a Home

  • Make sure your credit score is in good shape. With a high credit score, you can get lower mortgage rates, which translates to lower monthly mortgage payments.
  • Talk to a financial advisor about how buying a home will factor into your larger financial plan. You want to ensure you can purchase a home without sacrificing your other financial goals. A matching tool like SmartAsset’s can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and goals. Then the program will narrow down your options from thousands of advisors to up to three registered investment advisors who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Hailshadow, ©iStock.com/RichLegg, ©iStock.com/gpointstudio

The post What Is a Quitclaim Deed? appeared first on SmartAsset Blog.

Related Articles: