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What is a Deed?

Deeds are legal documents that transfer title between one person to another.  Having title means that you own something and have the right to use it, but it is not an actual document. The deed is the paper that legally carries over ownership. 

When signed and properly executed, deeds are legally defensible. But deeds must fulfill some general requirements:

  • A deed must make a declaration that it is a deed, perhaps by saying “this deed…”;
  • it must describe the property in question (the “legal description”); and
  • there must be operative words or words showing intent on the part of the grantor to convey title to the grantee.
Deeds

What is a Deed?

Deeds are legal documents that transfer title between one person to another.  Having title means that you own something and have the right to use it, but it is not an actual document. The deed is the paper that legally carries over ownership. 

When signed and properly executed, deeds are legally defensible. But deeds must fulfill some general requirements:

  • A deed must make a declaration that it is a deed, perhaps by saying “this deed…”;
  • it must describe the property in question (the “legal description”); and
  • there must be operative words or words showing intent on the part of the grantor to convey title to the grantee.
Deeds

Three Different Types of Deeds

There are three main types of deeds involving property:

General Warranty Deed

General warranty deeds are the most common deeds used and afford the most guarantees and protection for buyers.  The seller(s) offers a binding promise, called a warranty, that the seller(s) hold clear title to a piece of property and have the authority to sell it. It also — and this is, perhaps, the most important distinction — provides title guarantees not only for the period of time that the current title holder owned the property, but also for the entire period of time stretching back to the property’s originations.

General warranty deeds are common in your typical real estate transaction, especially when buyers are obtain financing. In some cases, it’s possible to create a general warranty deed without the help of a lawyer.

Special Warranty Deed

A special warranty deed provides less coverage than a general warranty deed but guarantees a clean title for the period of time that the current grantor owned the property.

In situations with a special warranty deed, a seller or grantor may not be familiar with the history of the property before they took ownership, so they can’t guarantee that there were any title defects before they took possession. They do, however, guarantee that during the time they owned the property, all was ship-shape.

Quitclaim Deed

quitclaim deed’s sole purpose is to painlessly transfer a grantor’s interest in property to another person — without any protections. A quitclaim doesn’t include any warranties or guarantees, and the grantor is not liable for any defects. A quitclaim does not even guarantee that the party transferring interest is the real owner of the property.

Quitclaims are most often used to transfer property between family members. In the case of divorce, ex-spouses may use a quitclaim to remove one party’s name and interest from the title.

What Do I Need to Properly Execute (Sign) a Deed?

“Executing” a deed means to sign with all preconditions in place. Signing requirements for deeds vary by state, but generally, real estate deeds require the following to be legally defensible:

  • Signature of the grantor
  • Witness signature(s)
  • Acknowledgement by a notary public

For your state’s deed signing requirements and recording locations, visit here.

How to Add or Remove a Name to a Deed

When there are modifications to who holds title, the deed must be changed. And whether you’re selling a home to a new owner or wish to add your spouse to the deed, the process is similar.

If you bear sole title to a property and want to add your partner to the deed, you, the grantor, would write out a new deed transferring title from yourself to yourself and the new owner.

When it comes to removing a name, this can’t be done passively — meaning both parties must agree on a change of ownership, or there must be a court order. When two legitimate owners agree to transfer title to one party, it’s common to use a quitclaim, which will release one party’s interest.

When signing a Deed as an individual, the signer must sign his or her name. 

When signing a Deed as an Executor, heir, beneficiary, etc., a signer must sign his or her name and then whom he or she is as a party to the transaction.  For example:

Jane Johnson, Executrix to the Estate of Martin Johnson under Trust Agreement dated June 1, 2010.   

Three Different Types of Deeds

There are three main types of deeds involving property:

General Warranty Deed

General warranty deeds are the most common deeds used and afford the most guarantees and protection for buyers.  The seller(s) offers a binding promise, called a warranty, that the seller(s) hold clear title to a piece of property and have the authority to sell it. It also — and this is, perhaps, the most important distinction — provides title guarantees not only for the period of time that the current title holder owned the property, but also for the entire period of time stretching back to the property’s originations.

General warranty deeds are common in your typical real estate transaction, especially when buyers are obtain financing. In some cases, it’s possible to create a general warranty deed without the help of a lawyer.

Special Warranty Deed

A special warranty deed provides less coverage than a general warranty deed but guarantees a clean title for the period of time that the current grantor owned the property.

In situations with a special warranty deed, a seller or grantor may not be familiar with the history of the property before they took ownership, so they can’t guarantee that there were any title defects before they took possession. They do, however, guarantee that during the time they owned the property, all was ship-shape.

Quitclaim Deed

quitclaim deed’s sole purpose is to painlessly transfer a grantor’s interest in property to another person — without any protections. A quitclaim doesn’t include any warranties or guarantees, and the grantor is not liable for any defects. A quitclaim does not even guarantee that the party transferring interest is the real owner of the property.

Quitclaims are most often used to transfer property between family members. In the case of divorce, ex-spouses may use a quitclaim to remove one party’s name and interest from the title.

What Do I Need to Properly Execute (Sign) a Deed?

“Executing” a deed means to sign with all preconditions in place. Signing requirements for deeds vary by state, but generally, real estate deeds require the following to be legally defensible:

  • Signature of the grantor
  • Witness signature(s)
  • Acknowledgement by a notary public

For your state’s deed signing requirements and recording locations, visit here.

How to Add or Remove a Name to a Deed

When there are modifications to who holds title, the deed must be changed. And whether you’re selling a home to a new owner or wish to add your spouse to the deed, the process is similar.

If you bear sole title to a property and want to add your partner to the deed, you, the grantor, would write out a new deed transferring title from yourself to yourself and the new owner.

When it comes to removing a name, this can’t be done passively — meaning both parties must agree on a change of ownership, or there must be a court order. When two legitimate owners agree to transfer title to one party, it’s common to use a quitclaim, which will release one party’s interest.

When signing a Deed as an individual, the signer must sign his or her name. 

When signing a Deed as an Executor, heir, beneficiary, etc., a signer must sign his or her name and then whom he or she is as a party to the transaction.  For example:

Jane Johnson, Executrix to the Estate of Martin Johnson under Trust Agreement dated June 1, 2010.   

For questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

However, bear in mind that Notaries are not Attorneys and in no instance are they allowed to give you any type of legal advice.

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