Deeds are legal forms that transfer real estate from one person or organization to another person or organization. A quit claim deed (also called a quick claim deed or quitclaim deed) is one of several types of deeds. Other types of deeds include warranty deeds, special warranty deeds, and life estate deeds.
The distinguishing feature of a quit claim deed is its lack of any warranties of title. A person who signs a quit claim deed does not warrant that he or she has title to the property.
When property is conveyed by quit claim deed, the person who receives the property gets whatever title the transferor has. But the transferor is not responsible if there are any problems with the title (or if it turns out that the transferor did not have title at all).
In other words, if the transferor had title, the quit claim deed will transfer title to the transferee. But the transferor does not claim to have title. If it turns out that the transferor did not have title, the transferee cannot sue the transferor for failing to convey title to the property.
This lack of liability distinguishes quit claim deeds from other types of deeds, such as warranty deeds or special warranty deeds. With a warranty deed, the transferor guarantees that he or she has clear title to the property. With a special warranty deed, the transferor guarantees that he or she has not done anything to encumber the title to the real estate. Quit claim deeds make no such assurances. The transferee simply takes whatever title the transferor has, without recourse against the transferor if title is defective.
Because quit claim deeds do not place any liability on the transferor, most people would prefer to use a quit claim deed when transferring property. But since the transferee has no assurance that he or she is getting clear title to the real estate, quit claim deeds are not often used in commercial settings. If a person is buying real estate in an arm’s length transaction, the buyer will want at least some warranty of title. Because of this, most sales of real estate will use a warranty deed or special warranty deed instead of quit claim deed.
Quit claim deeds are much more common where there is a preexisting relationship between the transferee and the transferor. Common transfers by quit claim deed include:
- A transfer of heir property (or other inherited property) between family members.
- A transfer of real estate from a person to a business that is owned by that person.
- A gift of property from one person to another.
Quit claim deeds are often used in divorce proceedings. Most husbands and wives own their homes jointly, meaning that both of them are on the deed to the home. In a divorce proceeding, the settlement agreement will often provide that one spouse needs to convey his or her interest in that home to another spouse, so that the home will only be owned by one of the two spouses following the divorce. A quit claim deed is often used to inexpensively eliminate one spouse’s interest from the home.