A quitclaim deed is the simplest way that one person (the grantor) can transfer property, such as a house, to another person (the grantee). It is often used among family members to remove or change someone's name from the property title. While the concept is simple and straightforward — relinquishing all ownership claims to a particular property — it's also important to note what a quitclaim can't do.
In renouncing the claim, the grantor makes no guarantee of promise that the property is free of debt. Another important distinction is that the grantor makes no promise that no one else claims to own the property. The quitclaim deed says, in effect, that the grantor is signing over whatever ownership he or she may have in the property. It does not even guarantee that the grantor has any ownership interest at all.
Providing all parties are in agreement, a quitclaim is a convenient way to establish title without the time and expense of litigation. A simple form is filled out, taken to a notary, and signed and stamped, making it legally binding. The document is then photocopied, distributed to all parties, and then filed at the local land records office.
Some title companies are reluctant to insure the title when a quitclaim deed was used to transfer title. They might recommend use of a warranty deed. A warranty deed conveys full title to the property and warrants that title against defects (sometimes referred to as a "cloud"), such as tax liens, legal judgments and unpaid debts. For this reason, warranty deeds are often used between buyers and sellers of property.
Learn more real estate terms in our Real Estate Glossary
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