By its most common definition, a quitclaim deed is a document by which one person passes legal and financial ownership of a home to another person.
It’s also a way for an owner of a home to remove himself from the title to the property.
Often misspelled as “quick claim deed” or “quit claim deed”, quitclaim deeds have a multitude of applications, including:
- Assigning a home to a trust or entity
- Adding a partner to title after marriage
- Removing a partner from title after divorce
In order to quitclaim a property, the grantor must have the legal right to assign the property to a grantee, or else the quitclaim deed is worthless. For example, you can quitclaim your interest in City Hall to your neighbor, but it would have no practical or legal consequence because you don’t actually own City Hall.
This is where quitclaim deeds vary from warranty deeds (or grant deeds) — the types of transfers that occur when real estate is sold. In instances of the former, the title to a home is guaranteed to be clear.
Before using a quitclaim deed on your own home, consult an estate planning attorney. Transferring real property can trigger ruin a will, or trigger taxes — it’s important to consult a professional for help.