Quitclaim deeds are easier to use than you may realize. Read this article for a step-by-step guide on how to prepare and file a quitclaim deed.

There are several types of deeds that are used for real estate transactions, one of them being a quitclaim deed. It’s unique in the sense that it offers the lowest level of protection, and doesn’t provide any guarantees to the person receiving the property. You might be thinking, why would anyone use this deed? As it turns out, it’s a popular type of deed used in estate planning, and for transactions that don’t involve any money. In this guide, we’ll go over the 5 easy steps on how to file a quitclaim deed. Before we go over them, we’ll provide more examples of what a quitclaim deed is used for. That way, you’ll be able to better understand whether this is the right type of deed for you.

What is a Quitclaim Deed Used For?

A quitclaim deed is used for conducting real estate transactions that are relatively low-risk.

Before we get into possible uses, let’s first explain what a quitclaim deed is, and why you wouldn’t want to use one in a higher-risk transaction.

A quitclaim deed is one of several types of deeds that are used to transfer a piece of real property, namely real estate, from one person or another. Quitclaim deeds are distinct from other deeds in that it makes no guarantees about the actual title of a property.

If you’re unfamiliar, a property title is an individual’s legal interest, or ownership, in a property. If someone has a full title on a property, that means they have complete autonomy over it, including the right to sell. In other cases, they might share the title with one or more other persons. If that is the case, then they have to obtain the permission of all parties involved if they take any legal action on the property.

What does this all mean? This means that a person who is on the receiving end of a quitclaim deed only receives the interest that the owner has on the property, and nothing more. There are no guarantees about the title, while other types of deeds, such as a grant deed, do provide a warranty regarding the title. Quitclaim deeds do not offer the same level of protection.

This is why a quitclaim deed is typically only used in low-risk transactions. Here are some examples of when a quitclaim deed is used:

  • Giving real estate as a gift
  • Removing a spouse from the property title because of a divorce
  • To create an automatic transfer-on-death event to avoid probate
  • Transferring real estate into a Trust
  • To clear up any clouds or errors on the title

You may have noticed that these real estate transactions typically relate to family and estate planning matters, and do not involve money. Thus, they have much lower risk than a transaction where money is involved, such as a property owner transferring property to a buyer, in what we call arm’s-length transactions. In these cases, the buyer will demand a different type of deed that offers them more protection.

How to File a Quitclaim Deed

Today, we’ll be talking about how to file a quitclaim deed for estate planning purposes. For instance, you may be transferring the title of a property out of your name into the name of your Trust. Or, perhaps you’re preparing your estate and looking into how to give your house to your spouse or child one day. Finally, you may be going through a divorce and taking the steps to divest your assets and update your estate plan. These are all valid reasons for why you may want to use a quitclaim deed over any other type of deed.

The following is an overview of the steps to filing a quitclaim deed.

1. Obtain a quitclaim deed form

Your very first step is obtaining your quitclaim deed. There are many legal documents that you can write out yourself and have signed and notarized in order for them to go into effect. Of course, our firm offers this to our clients through our Estate Planning services.

You can also get a quitclaim deed as easily as downloading a free form online. It can typically be found on your county recorder’s website, although the exact source may vary based on your location. In most cases, you can find it by visiting your local government’s recorder site, navigating to the forms page, and finding a downloadable link under the grouping of real estate-related forms.

If that doesn’t work, then try performing a simple query in your search engine, such as “[Enter name of your county] Country Quitclaim Deed Form”. In most cases, you will be able to find a downloadable, electronic version of the form with instructions for filling it out.

2. Fill out the quitclaim deed form

Once you’ve obtained your quitclaim deed form, it’s time to fill it out. First, you’ll want to make sure you have your assessor’s parcel number (APN) ready. You can find it by looking at your valuation notice, tax bill, or deed. Although it will be less convenient, you can also look it up on your county’s government website.

Then, describe your property on your form by writing down your APN, along with your city and county. You’ll also need to provide your legal property description, which can be found on your deed.

Next, identify yourself as the grantor by filling out your full legal name. This means that you are the person transferring ownership of the property to another party. If this is not your role, then you should not be filling out the form. List all grantors if there are multiple owners of the property. Also list the full legal name of the grantee, and the person you’re transferring the property to.

Lastly, you will sign the form. However, you must sign the form in the presence of a notary, which we’ll explain next.

3. Get the quitclaim deed notarized

Most states require that you sign any deed in front of a notary public. That’s because a deed is an official, legal record of a real estate transaction. Without having the deed notarized or recorded, then the document is not official or valid.

To get the deed properly notarized, you will sign the document while a notary public serves as a witness. Then they will provide their own signature and seal, certifying that the property will be changing owners in a legal manner.

4. Take the quitclaim deed to the County Recorder’s Office

Once you’ve obtained your notary seal, it’s time to finalize the process. It’s time to get the transaction recorded in the public record by taking your quitclaim deed to your county recorder’s office.

5. File the appropriate paperwork

Before you arrive at the county recorder’s office, make sure you have all the required paperwork on hand. You can find out what paperwork you need, and how to obtain them, by visiting your county recorder’s website. The homepage will typically provide links to the required paperwork and helpful instructions. If things are unclear, you’ll also be able to locate the phone number for the office.

Here is an example list of the required paperwork that you’d need to complete and submit along with the quitclaim deed itself:

  • Preliminary Change of Ownership Report
  • Documentary of Transfer Tax, if applicable
  • Notice of Exempt Transaction, if applicable

Last but not least, be prepared to pay the fees associated with filing your quitclaim deed. The cost will vary from county to county but typically starts with a base fee, a fee for each additional page of your document, plus additional fees.

Create & File Your Quitclaim Deed Today

A quitclaim deed is used to transfer your interest in a property to another individual or a living entity, such as a revocable living Trust. You’re not providing any guarantee that you own the property free and clear. If you only own half of a property, then you can only transfer half.

This is why quitclaim deeds are typically used for estate planning purposes, and when no money is involved in the transaction. Common scenarios include transferring your home or land to a loved one as a gift, handing interest over to your ex-spouse, and transferring property into a Trust or a business.

From an estate planning perspective, transferring your real estate into a Trust is wise. It’s a mechanism to protect your property, and allow it to bypass probate and easily pass on to your loved ones one day.

Ready to fill out and file your quitclaim deed? Black Hills Financial Planning can help you today! Contact us here to learn more.