Will Versus Quitclaim: When There’s a Conflict, Who Owns the House?

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Usually, the quitclaim deed overrides the instructions in a will. But the devil is in the details.

At age 60, Letitia bought her Sacramento home, as a sole owner. Twenty years later, aged 80, Letitia went into a care home. Letitia subsequently signed a quitclaim deed and gave the home to Jackson, the only one of her three children who was not already a homeowner. Thanks to the modern convenience of remote online notarization, this was simple for Letitia to do.

  Some homeowners use quitclaim deeds when the parties know the home’s history and do not expect a title search. See more at: Transferring a Deed Without a Lawyer? Here’s What You Should Know.

At age 84, Letitia passed away, survived by the three children: Jae, Jasper, and Jackson.

Letitia left a will that appears to give 50% of the home’s value to Jackson, with the other half divided equally between the other two siblings. But Jackson is unwilling to give up any interest the home.

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Using a Quitclaim Deed: Top 5 Reasons

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Are you considering using a quitclaim deed? It’s a fast, simple, and reasonable way to transfer home ownership. It’s a good choice in certain situations. What are those certain situations?

In contrast to warranty deeds, which are most often used in regular home sales, a quitclaim would more likely be used:

  1. Among family members. In this case, when the parties know the history of the property and no title insurance policy is issued, quitclaiming can be done either with or without expert help. 
  • In a divorce. A decree stating that one ex-spouse will keep the home doesn’t actually transfer a home. Yet transferring ownership to an ex is easily done by quitclaim.
  • To clear up confusion about ownership, including name changes. Quitclaiming to clarify ownership can be achieved without expert help, but it’s often requested by a title insurer.
  • In a sale of a bank-owned house. If it will be the buyer’s responsibility to make the title good, a quitclaim can be used in an REO auction.  
  • To place a home into an LLC. Some investor owners decide to transfer properties into an LLC. A quitclaim deed is one way to do this.

Quitclaiming is a simple, because it can transfer ownership of real estate without the need to examine current ownership or the chain of title. Historically, the quitclaim has long been the go-to method of transferring property while avoiding bureaucracy.

In that spirit, without further ado, here’s more on five top reasons homeowners decide to use quitclaim deeds.

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Is a Quitclaim Deed Subject to Tax?

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Quitclaims are sometimes used to transfer property interests from one family member to another, or between divorcing spouses. Parents might wonder if they should use quitclaims to pass property to children to avoid the probate process. It’s easy enough to do. The homeowner signs the document with a notary, takes it to the county recorder of deeds, and has it recorded. Simple. No wonder adding someone to a deed or relinquishing rights through a quitclaim is often (mistakenly) called a “quick claim” deed. But what does the Internal Revenue Service think?

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Buying Property with a Quitclaim Deed in Massachusetts

A Quitclaim? No problem. It’s Common Practice Here — and Safeguarding Your Title Is Straightforward.

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Three major Massachusetts real estate deeds are commonly used: the quitclaim deed, the warranty deed, and the release deed. In contrast to most other places, Massachusetts home buyers receive their property through quitclaim deeds. So, we need to delve into the use of the quitclaim deed in Massachusetts.

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Bargain and Sale vs. Quitclaim Deeds: A Concise Guide

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Are you looking to buy a home though a bargain and sale deed? Perhaps you’re buying after a foreclosure, or from an estate or a court-ordered sale. If so, the entity granting the deed to you might lack knowledge of the property’s history. Basically, the deed means a buyer is expected to accept the house as-is.

How does this differ from a quitclaim deed? What rights and protections does the bargain and sale deed give you, the new owner? Let’s take a look.

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Defending a Quitclaim Deed

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The quitclaim is famous for being the simplest way to give up an interest in real estate. Unlike a warranty deed, the quitclaim grants whatever interest a person has to the other person, but offers no assurances that the title is clear.

Once a quitclaim is signed and recorded, can the deed be challenged in court? Yes, it can. Recording your deed only provides notice of your ownership claim to the public. It does not guarantee ownership.

Because quitclaims make no guarantees about the property’s title or condition, a court that hears a challenge to your deed will simply be examining the quitclaim to find out if the transfer was legally correct. So, if you received an interest through a quitclaim deed, you’ll want to be able to show that the grantor properly conveyed the deed to you. In this article, we take a look at why you might hold a quitclaim deed in the first place, and how to hold onto your property if that deed is challenged.

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Don’t Quit Your Claim! A Quitclaim Deed Is Not a Mortgage Saving or Estate Planning Tool

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A quitclaim deed conveys—”quits”—a person’s interest in a property to someone else. Quitclaims prove useful in certain transfers of properties among family members or between divorcing spouses. The quitclaim allows separating partners to follow a court’s direction and leave one party as sole owner of the marital home. Quitclaims might seem convenient in other circumstances, but they are rarely the best choice. 

In contrast to the warranty deed, a quitclaim deed offers no assurances of clear title. In most jurisdictions a recorder of deeds must simply record a quitclaim deed; it is not the recorder’s role to investigate the circumstances of the conveyance.

Scammers may take advantage of the quitclaim’s simplicity to siphon equity from vulnerable people. After recording a quitclaim, a bad actor may sell the property with no guarantees, rent it under false pretenses, or exploit its underlying value as collateral.

Spot the Mortgage Relief Scam

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Adding Your Spouse to the Deed

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You’ve just gotten married, and already own a house in your own name. You want to share everything with your spouse, including your real estate, so adding their name to the title is part of being married, correct? Well … maybe. Much depends on the terms of your mortgage, and whether your spouse has serious credit issues. Before adding your spouse to the deed, speak with your attorney.

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Removing Someone from a Real Estate Deed

Removing someone from a deed—is it possible? The short answer: No.

Misconceptions and Realities

Image of two people at a desk with real estate deed discussing removing one of them from the deed.

It is a misconception that someone can be “removed” from the deed.

Nor can a co-owner simply take away another party’s interest in a property by executing a new deed without that other party.

In short, no one can be passively removed from a title.

Even if an owner “added” someone else to the real estate deed previously, the first owner cannot reconsider and take the second person off the deed.

Why?

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