Real Property Basics: What Is a Clear Title?

A clear title. The term is commonly used to mean the deed holder can prove ownership, unquestionably. To verify that, a title company can conduct a title search.

Other parties’ claims on the title are called title defects, or clouds on title.

What do these claims look like? They might be mortgage liens, court judgments, contracts with renters, solar contracts, or any agreements to allow access to part of the property. There could be unpaid taxes in the past, claims by relatives involving their rights in foreclosures or inheritances, even liens for fees and fines imposed by homeowners’ associations.

Having a clear title matters to a homeowner. Selling isn’t an option while there are liens or claims against the title. Straightforward enough… But there are some finer points worth knowing.

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You Can Quitclaim Your Home to a Loved One to Skip Probate Costs. Is It Worth It?

A quitclaim deed easily, quickly transfers your home’s title. You can use a quitclaim to give a home to someone else, with no expectation of a payment from the recipient. Some people use quitclaims to pass homes to their family members.

So, is this a good way to carry out your wishes yourself — a sort of early estate planning? Who needs their home going under a probate court’s supervision after they die, right? And who wants to pay huge fees to the county for the trouble?

Fair questions. But…  

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

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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Removing Someone from a Real Estate Deed

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

Misconceptions and Realities

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.


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What is a Quitclaim Deed?

What is a quitclaim deed?

There are various ways to transfer a real estate title, and among the simplest is a quitclaim deed. The person is literally quitting their claim to the property. Just because it’s the simplest method does not mean it’s the best, however, especially if you are the recipient of the property. That’s because the quitclaim deed does not guarantee that the grantor – the person transferring the property – actually owns the real estate in question. The grantee, or person receiving the property, not only could end up with a worthless deed, but cannot sue the grantor if it turns out that individual did not own the property or owned only a percentage of the land or buildings. However, if fraud is involved, it is possible to sue the grantor on those grounds. That does not mean you should always avoid quitclaim deeds, but it does mean you should do your research.

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