What Is a Quitclaim Deed?

Quitclaim deed form on table with reading glasses, pen, and coffee mug
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A quitclaim deed transfers or quits any interest in real property. A grantor—the individual transferring interest in a property—may not be in the title at all and can transfer an acquired interest. For example, a grantor married to the owner of a property might sign and record a quitclaim deed to transfer any interest the grantor may have acquired in the property to the spouse, who would be referred to as the grantee.

A quitclaim deed does not guarantee that a grantor owns any real interest in a property or the status of the title. It also applies only to whatever interest a grantor owns at the time of the transfer. For example, if a grantor acquires rights to a property in question at a later date, the previous quitclaim deed would have no impact.

Quitclaim deeds are not used for sales, which utilize warranty deeds or grant deeds. There also are circumstances that might call for an interspousal transfer deed in lieu of a quitclaim deed.

Divorce

Divorce is one of the principal reasons for filing a quitclaim deed. If a couple owns a home jointly, the spouse not keeping the home would need to sign a quitclaim deed and transfer interest in the property to the spouse awarded the home in the divorce.

A grantor who signs a quitclaim deed is giving up ownership of a property and removing himself from the title, but this has no impact on mortgage debt.

Mortgage Impact

A quitclaim deed does not remove a borrower's name from a mortgage nor relieve a borrower from responsibility for payment of a mortgage. Only a refinance, a payoff of the mortgage, or sale of the property which results in a payoff of the mortgage relieves a borrower from the obligation.

In a divorce, how ownership of a property is split can vary from case to case, but it's common for the individual keeping the home to refinance and buy out the ex-spouse. This kind of transfer cannot be handled with a simple quitclaim deed.

You can download a quitclaim deed from many websites, but if you want 100% confidence that your quitclaim deed was prepared properly and that your interests are protected, it is wise to consult with a lawyer or other legal professional specializing in real estate.

Interspousal Transfer Deeds

Interspousal transfer deeds are similar to quitclaim deeds and relinquish any further claim of community property. It can be signed by a current spouse or a spouse in the midst of a separation or going through final divorce proceedings. These also are commonly used if one spouse has better credit than the other and they want to refinance the home. In this case, the spouse with poor credit would transfer a claim to the spouse with better credit.

There is no state or city transfer tax due on a property transferred by an interspousal transfer deed. In California, for instance, the lack of a transfer tax represents a savings of $1.10 per $1,000 of value.