What are Deeds?

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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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A deed is a legal document that passes title of ownership of real estate property from one party (the seller) to another (the buyer). In most cases, deeds must be registered with the County Recorder of the city in which the property exists. Deeds are signed by the seller and buyer in the presence of a notary. There are several different types of property deeds. Following is a list with a brief explanation of each type.

General Warranty Deeds: This is the most common type of deed. In a General Warranty deed the seller guarantees that no other party holds interest in the property, notwithstanding exceptions noted in the deed. If the buyer should later discover encumbrances undisclosed in the deed, he or she can sue the seller. Title insurance companies commonly require a General Warranty deed before granting insurance to the buyer.

Limited Warranty Deeds: A Limited Warranty deed is similar to a General Warranty deed except that it only covers the time period during which the current owner has owned the property. It does not warrant the prior period, as does the General Warranty deed.


Quit Claim Deeds: A Quit Claim deed is used when a person wants to pass his or her interest in property on to another. The party "quits claiming" the property. Quit Claim deeds do not include a guarantee to the buyer that the seller has actual ownership or interest in the property. If it happens that the property is otherwise encumbered, the buyer is out of luck.

Life Estate Deeds: This type of deed is used when the owner wants to bequeath his or her property directly to another person upon death. The person named in the Life Estate deed is referred to as a remainderman. Property is not subject to probate in this case, but if the owner should decide to sell the property instead, the remainderman must grant permission, sign the new deed, and share in any profits.

Transfer on Death Deeds: Due to potential complications of the Life Estate deed, this newer type of deed allows the living owner to retain all rights to the property until death. Only then does the beneficiary take possession of the property. This type of deed also avoids probate, but allows the living owner to change his or her mind, sell property, or name a different beneficiary, all without requiring consent or even knowledge on the part of the beneficiary.

Survivorship Deeds: A Survivorship deed is commonly used by couples who want to make sure their property goes directly to the surviving partner upon death of one partner. When the second partner dies, however, the property is subject to probate. With a Survivorship deed, the last surviving party named in the deed gets complete ownership of the property. It is not recommended, therefore, for situations in which an estate should be equally divided among children or other parties.

While this article provides general information, it is not advice. Consult a licensed professional familiar with the laws of your state for guidance on the type of deed that will best serve your purposes and protect your investment.


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Discuss this Article

Post 7

If one party of suvivorship deed goes to a nursing home, can medicare take the property?

Post 6

What happens when there is a deed with the owner, and her four children tenants at will and all get an equal share, but one is incarcerated with a lien on her? How do you eliminate this person on the sale of the home?

Post 5

What is a substitution of trustee and full reconveyance document?

Post 4

California: I recently received a Deed of Trust with assignment of Rents As Additional Security as collateral for a unpaid debt by the property owner. I recorded this Deed of trust in the county recorders office. Now I don't know what this really means to me as I just want my money? I am supposed to be paid soon. Once I am paid, how do I release this deed of trust so I am not on this anymore..? Are there any liabilities to being on a deed of trust like this one?

Post 3

My father and a I own a home together, we are both on the title of our General Warranty Deed. When one of us passes away will the remaining living person automatically become the sole owner of the property?

Post 2

i would like to add my 4 children to title. what would the tenancy be on this. I want my home to pass to my children without probate upon my death.

Post 1

i would like to execute a beneficiary deed to my daughter and upon her death property to her 2 children. is this possible

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