Types of Deeds

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 What is a Deed?

A deed is a type of written legal document which is used to transfer ownership rights in a house or other type of real property from the current owner to a new owner. There are numerous different types of deeds.

Each different type of deed has its own requirements. Although different deeds have different requirements, there are some general elements which most deeds share, including:

  • A description identifying the property which is being transferred;
  • The names of the parties who are taking part in the deed transaction, including the grantor and the grantee; and
  • The signature of the individual who is transferring the deed. It is important to note that the signature must be notarized by a notary public.

One of the most common reasons that a deed may be used is to transfer ownership during the purchase or sale of a home. A deed may also be used when an individual inherits property from a family member.

In addition to these purposes, a deed may also be used to:

  • Transfer gifts;
  • Transfer trust contents; and
  • Transfer certain rights, such as a sheriff’s deed or a tax deed.

If an individual receives a property deed, it is important to remember to record that deed with the local county recorder’s office where the property is located. Failure to record that deed may lead to serious consequences.

What Does it Mean to Record a Deed?

As previously noted, when an individual receives a deed, it is crucial that they file, or record, it with their local county recorder’s office in the county in which the property is located. Although the law does not require an individual to record a deed, failing to record a deed may have consequences.

For example, if a buyer does not record the deed to their new home, it may be very difficult for them to prove that they are the true owner of the property. If an individual cannot prove true ownership of their property, they will face many challenges, which may include not being able to sell their property or losing the ability to refinance their mortgage.

In addition, recording a deed is necessary in order for that deed to be valid. Recording a deed puts the public on notice that the deed holder owns the property and is the rightful owner of that particular piece of property.

In order to file a deed, an individual should visit their local recorder’s office. At that office, an individual can give the deed to a clerk who will handle the filing.

It is important to note that there may be a small fee to file their deed. The amount of that fee will vary by jurisdiction, but typically starts around $10.

Eventually, the recorder’s office will return a copy of the recorded deed to the deed holder, usually by mail. It is also important to note that each state has its own unique laws called recording acts.

Recording acts govern the process of how and when an individual should record their property. The laws also assist with the settling of any disputes which may arise over ownership.

What are the Different Types of Deeds?

As previously noted, there are numerous types of deeds and the requirements for each may vary by jurisdiction. The specific city or state statute must be followed in order to create a valid deed.

The most common types of deeds include:

  • Quit claim deeds;
  • Grant deeds;
  • General warranty deeds;
  • Special warranty deeds;
  • Fiduciary deeds; and
  • Trust deeds.

Quit claim deeds transfer to a grantee any and all of the legal rights which a grantor has in the piece of real property. A quit claim deed provides no warranty regarding the extent of the grantor’s interest in the real property.

Grant deeds transfer to a grantee all or part of the legal rights which a grantor has in a piece of real property. A grantor deed implies certain warranties, including:

  • The property has not been transferred to another individual; and
  • That the property is free from any liens which are placed on the property by the grantor.

General warranty deeds transfer to a grantee all of the legal rights which a grantor has in a piece of real property. It also explicitly warranties that a grantor holds good title to the piece of property.

Special warranty deeds transfer to a grantee all of the legal rights a grantor has in the piece of real property. However, it only warranties what the deed specifically states is warranted.

Fiduciary deeds are deeds that are used to transfer property when a grantor is a fiduciary, which may include:

  • A trustee;
  • A guardian;
  • A conservator; or
  • An executor acting in their appointed capacity and within their allotted authority.

Trust deeds are written instruments which transfer property to a trustee in order to secure an obligation, such as property notes or mortgages. The trustee has the legal authority to sell the real property in the case of a default on the obligation.

What Type of Deed is Most Commonly Used?

A general warranty deed is the type of deed which is most commonly used in real estate transactions. This type of deed offers the greatest protections for buyers with its terms.

More specifically, the terms of a general warranty deed typically contains six covenants, or promises. Some of the covenants include that:

  • A grantor is the rightful owner of the property and can legally transfer its title;
  • There are no liens, debts, or encumbrances on the property, neither prior to nor during their ownership period; and
  • If a legal issue does arise, then the grantor will be responsible for fixing it.

It is important to note, however, that whether or not a covenant is included will depend upon the laws of that particular state. Therefore, the terms of a deed and what it guarantees will vary by jurisdiction.

If I Inherited a Property, How Do I Get a Deed?

There is a different type of deed which may be used when an individual inherits property from a family member. For example, certain states use what is called a transfer on death deed.

With a transfer on death deed, the current owner will sign over a deed to the new owner while the current owner is still alive. Once the current owner passes away, the deed will automatically transfer ownership to the new owner.

In some states, an individual may create a will in order to transfer their property upon their death. In these instances, when a family member passes away, the individual who inherits the property is required to bring a copy of the will as well as a copy of the death certificate to their county recorder’s office for filing.

After these documents are filed, a clerk in the recorder’s office will update the current deed to reflect the new owner.

Do I Need a Real Estate Lawyer for My Deed Issue?

It is essential to have the assistance of a real estate attorney for any deed issues you may have. A deed is a very important document which affects ownership interest and rights in parcels of real property.

Your attorney can assist you with the proper preparation of a deed. They can also advise you regarding the extent of property rights which are applicable to a particular piece of property.

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