What Is a Quitclaim Deed? How It Works

Quitclaim deeds can be a straightforward way to transfer property, but they don’t guarantee ownership.
Dalia Ramirez
By Dalia Ramirez 
Updated
Edited by Tina Orem

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A quitclaim deed — also called a quick claim deed — transfers property to someone without conducting a traditional sale (a person simply “quits” their “claim” to the property). Quitclaim deeds occur without title searches or title insurance, so there’s no guarantee the owner actually owns the property they’re transferring.

  • Because of this higher risk, quitclaim deeds are typically only used by families as an estate planning tool. For example, you can use a quitclaim deed to add a spouse to a property title or remove them after divorce, as well as transfer property directly to an heir or to a living trust

    Chase. Your guide to quitclaim deeds. Accessed Jun 30, 2023.
    .

  • Quitclaim deeds can also be handy for fixing an error in an existing title.

» Estate planning? Here’s how to get started

Pros and cons of a quitclaim deed

Benefits

Drawbacks

Quick and simple process.

Doesn’t guarantee property ownership.

Can transfer property to a family member without going through probate.

Rules can vary by state.

Transfer is considered a gift, which can reduce estate taxes.

Offers no protections for the recipient.

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How to create a quitclaim deed

A quitclaim deed is much simpler to create than other types of deeds, such as warranty deeds. Here’s how to set one up:

  1. Find the quitclaim deed form specific to your county and state. In some counties, you can fill out the form online; in most, you can request the form from your county clerk

    Colorado Bar Association. Which Deed Should I Use?. Accessed Jun 30, 2023.
    .

  2. Fill out the necessary information, which typically includes the name of the grantor and the grantee, a description of the property and any other details about the transfer.

  3. Get the deed notarized. Both parties must sign the document, and in some states, you’ll need a witness signature as well.

  4. File the deed with your county clerk to officially register the transfer.

Quitclaim deed loopholes

Quitclaim deeds can help people take advantage of an estate planning loophole to avoid probate, the court-supervised process for distributing assets after someone dies. Because probate can be costly and time-consuming, many people want to avoid it by transferring property through alternative methods.

Using a quitclaim deed or other means to transfer the property to a beneficiary or a living trust before the owner dies, instead of passing it down through a will, may help avoid probate.

Quitclaim deed tax implications

Giving assets away before you die can reduce the size of your estate, which can reduce your estate taxes (if your estate is large enough to be subject to federal or state estate tax). The federal estate tax ranges from rates of 18% to 40% and generally only applies to assets over $12.92 million in 2023 or $13.61 million in 2024. A quitclaim deed is one way to make gifts while you are still alive (however, in some cases gifts can be taxable).

» Learn more: How estate taxes work

Quitclaim deed vs. warranty deed

The main difference between a quitclaim deed and a warranty deed is who uses them and how much protection they offer to the buyer and the seller. Warranty deeds are commonly used in real estate transactions — such as buying a home — to guarantee ownership to the buyer, with clauses that protect both parties from a breach in contract.

Quitclaim deeds, on the other hand, are typically used to transfer property “as is” between two trusted parties, without making a sale. They don’t guarantee that the grantor owned the property outright or that no one else has a legal claim on it

Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. Quitclaim deed. Accessed Jun 30, 2023.
.

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