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WHAT IS A QUITCLAIM DEED?

A quitclaim deed is a legally-binding document that transfers your ownership of a property or a piece of real estate to someone else. The physical transfer of ownership does not have to take place; it’s really just saying, “what I have, I give to you”. A quitclaim deed does not actually complete the property transfer until it is recorded in the registrar office.

A quitclaim deed is different to a warranty deed. The latter facilitates the transfer of ownership or title to commercial or residential real estate property and comes with certain guarantees made by the seller. The quitclaim deed comes with no guarantees; it’s merely a statement of intent that one party wishes to sell a property to another party.

How does the quitclaim deed differ from the general and special warranty deed?

There are 3 types of real estate deeds:

  • general warranty deed
  • the special warranty deed
  • quitclaim deed

Each type of deed conveys in writing a property owners intention to sell or bequeath their rights to a property to another person. The difference between the three types of deeds has to do with the types of warranties the grantor (party selling or disposing of a property) is making to the grantee (person buying a property or receiving ownership).

General warranty deed

With a general warranty deed, a seller or grantor transfers the property with certain guarantees or warranties. The grantor is legally bound by these warranties, and the buyer is protected against fraud and future claims.

Special warranty deed

With a special warranty deed, a seller or grantor provides a guarantee or warrant against anything that occurred during the time they owned the property. In other words, the grantor does not offer a guarantee against any defects that existed before the grantor took ownership. It’s typically used for commercial property transactions, and protects the buyer from fraud and future claims.

Quitclaim deed

With a quitclaim deed, the seller or grantor makes no guarantees and does not warrant that he/she actually owns the property. It’s commonly used for estate planning; for instance, a parent promises their home will go to a particular sibling. Quitclaim deeds are not used for real estate sales because the new owner is offered no guarantee about the property title.

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When do you use a quitclaim deed?

A quitclaim deed is typically used when a property is transferred without going through a traditional sales process. This may be transferring property from one family member to another, one spouse to the other or between divorcing spouse. It’s often included as part of a Living Will.

A quitclaim deed is a legally-binding document but it falls under common law and is open to legal challenges. The issue usually revolves around whether the property was legally transferred and if the grantor had the legal right to transfer the property. It’s more a promise than an actual legal transfer and can be overturned by a common law judge.

Another informal name given to the quitclaim deed is “quick claim deed”. This is because a quitclaim deed can bypass real estate red tape and the transfer can be concluded quickly in the case of a death, marriage or divorce.

Remember, a quitclaim deed makes no guarantees that the grantor actually owns the property and has the rights to transfer ownership. It can be disputed in a court of law if it’s found that the quitclaim deed is invalid.

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