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Education Center - What is a Property Deed?

What is a Property Deed?




Property Deeds are legal documents that convey or transfer the title to real estate property from one party to another. Once the property deed is executed in the presence of a notary and recorded at the County Recorder's office, the individuals named on the deed own the title to the property. A new deed must be executed to transfer the title again.

The deed contains a description of the property, the identification of its location or property lines, the grantor (seller), the grantee (buyer), the addresses of the involved parties, and specific words of conveyance.

The words of conveyance state that the grantor is conveying an interest in the property to the grantee. The grantor is the party that is handing over their interest in the property, whether by selling it or giving it as a gift. The grantee is the party that is accepting the property, either by purchasing it or receiving it as a gift.

A variety of deeds exist, each of which offer different legal rights. The most common property deeds can be further categorized into two main types: warranty and quit claim.

With a warranty deed, the grantor warrants or guarantees that the property is free and clear and does not have any liens on it. In essence, no creditors or lenders have any claim on the property's equity. Moreover, the grantor must indicate if any other individual has an interest in the property such as an easement or right of way.

Additionally, the grantor warrants that he is the rightful owner and as such, he has the right to transfer the title. This type of deed that is used with most property sales. A title insurance policy is typically required on the property to back up all of these claims. General Warranty Deeds are the most common type of property deeds.

Limited Warranty Deeds only cover the time period that the current owner has held the property. Limited warranty deeds warrant or guarantee the state of the title during the specific time limited to when the grantor was the owner of the property.

With a quit claim deed, the owner is indicating that he is not warranting that he owns the property, but that he is transferring what he does own. Since no title insurance is secured with a quit claim deed, a bit of risk does exist so the grantee should beware. The grantee has no recourse if it later turns out that someone else holds an interest in the property.

There is no guarantee that the title is free and clear and fully owned by the grantor. Quit claims are often used when property simply changes hands between family members.

A quit claim deed is one that is typically used when the property is not being sold. This can happen when the owner of the property dies and leaves the property to someone, when the owner marries and wants to add the spouse to the deed, when the owner divorces and wants to remove a spouse from the deed, or when the owner transfers the property to a living trust.

Life Estate Deeds transfer the property directly to a new owner referred to as the remainderman upon the death of the previous owner. This type of transfer cannot be changed and is referred to as an irrevocable gift. If the current owner wishes to sell the property, he must first obtain permission from the remainderman who is entitled to a share of the sale proceeds. The remainderman must be present to execute the deed to the new owner.

Additionally, the current owner retains the right to continue using the property for the remainder of his or her life. Probate, a legal process that oversees the distribution of assets, does not occur with this type of deed.

Transfer on Death Deeds allow the owner of a property to designate a beneficiary to receive ownership of the property upon his or her death. The beneficiary is not entitled to any interest in the property prior to the owner's death. Additionally, the owner has the right to change the designation of beneficiary or to sell the property without consulting the listed beneficiary. Probate does not occur with this type of deed. Allows the living owner to retain all rights to the property until his death

Survivorship Deeds are commonly used among couples who purchase property together and who wish to leave the property to the surviving partner. Survivorship deeds pass the title or ownership of the property to the surviving partner. Therefore, the last surviving party that is named on the deed receives complete ownership of the property.

This type of deed allows the owners to avoid probate upon the first death only. Furthermore, it is not recommended to use survivorship deeds when more than two people are involved.




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