Learn when to use a quitclaim or warranty deed — and important differences.
Whether it’s due to death, divorce or a change in personal circumstances, it may become necessary for a name to be removed from a property deed. If it’s your name, you’ll typically complete a deed of conveyance.
Eliminating the ownership rights of someone listed on a property deed typically involves removing the names from the deed and the title. Because some types of property are better suited to specific deeds of conveyance, this process requires knowing more about the type of property you’re discussing.
Regulations differ by state and by county, so you’ll want to research your local laws regarding changes of ownership. And while you can generally complete the process yourself, it’s a good idea to seek legal counsel and have an attorney review the paperwork before you submit it.
We break down when quitclaims, how you remove a name and what the risks are. Don’t understand the mumbo jumbo on this page? Need help dealing with the trouble of handling your deed? LegalMatch offers a free service that matches you with real estate lawyers who’ll listen to your case for free.
Property deeds can be tricky
Don’t understand the mumbo jumbo on this page? Need help dealing with the trouble of handling your deed? LegalMatch offers a free service that matches you with real estate lawyers who’ll listen to your case for free.
What’s a quitclaim deed?
A quitclaim deed is used to sign over property to another person. When someone signs a quitclaim deed, it means that they’re effectively giving up their claim or rights to the property. There is no exchange of money or warrantees, so it offers the lowest level of buyer protection.
Because they are high risk, quitclaim deeds are usually between people you trust — a family member or spouse, for example. Keep in mind that a quitclaim deed has no effect on the mortgage, so even if you remove a person from the deed, all parties on the mortgage are still responsible for payments.
How can I remove a name from the title deed?
A deed of conveyance — such as a quitclaim or warranty deed — is the most common way to remove a name from the property deed. A deed of conveyance is usually completed by buyer and the seller who is being removed from the title and deed.
Before you transfer ownership of any type of property, it’s important that you know the kind of ownership that’s being discussed. Some are better handled with specific deeds of conveyance.
Forms of property ownership types include:
- Sole ownership. A single person owns the property.
- Joint tenancy. Multiple people own the property.
- Rights of survivorship. Multiple people own the property and inherit equal shares after another owner’s death.
- Tenants in common. Multiple people own the property and do not inherit any shares after another owner’s death.
- Tenancy by entirety. Two people own a property, one of whom inherits the entire property after the other’s death.
There are five steps to remove a name from the property deed:
1. Discuss property ownership interests.
Speak with any co-owners to reach an agreement about which names will be removed from the title and why. If removing your name, agree on your share of the property, who it will be transferred to and how the ownership structure is formed.
When transferring property ownership, you’ll use one of two deeds of conveyance:
- A quitclaim deed. States that you have the right to transfer a property with no legal assurance that anybody else claims to own it.
- A warranty deed. States that you have the right to transfer a property with an explicit assurance nobody else claims to own it.
Quitclaim deeds are easy to file and work for most changes of ownership. A warranty deed, however, can be more appropriate in situations when there are multiple owners. A warranty deed can also prevent future challenges to ownership, because it clearly indicates the transferring party’s right to change the ownership.
2. Access a copy of your title deed.
You’ll need to get a copy of the title deed to verify that it currently includes the name you’d like to remove. You can get a copy of the title deed from your county clerk’s office, but in some cases, you may be able to order the deed online.
If you’re getting a copy from your local land registry office, search for your deed in their database or ask for assistance.
3. Complete, review and sign the quitclaim or warranty form.
You can get a quitclaim form online, from an office supply store or from your county or city clerk’s office. If you’re looking to remove your name, you must fill out the quitclaim form, using the same name found on the title deed. Warranty deeds can also be found online, but they are more often acquired from the county clerk’s office.
Both quitclaim and warranty deeds are valid only when they’re executed correctly. In most counties, the deed must accurately include all parties to the deed as well as the signature of the person conveying or granting the deed.
Quitclaim and warranty deeds must clearly specify:
- The name of the grantor and grantee and address of the property.
- The date of the transfer.
- The county name, state and city where the deed is signed.
- A document number or reference in the county recorder’s office where the previous deed was filed.
- The reason for the transfer.
- What the grantor will receive from the transfer — for example, a sum of money.
- The relevant county, legal property description, tax parcel ID number and other relevant financial or tax info.
- The form of ownership.
Sign the deed only if correct and as advised by your attorney, if you have one. Sign in front of a certified notary witness who can acknowledge each signature.
When one or more of the people on your property deed have died, you’ll need to transfer the property to its living owners. Whether a will is involved or not, if you’re a surviving owner, you’re typically required to submit three documents to your state’s clerk of courts or registrar, including:
- Death certificate. You’ll need to obtain a copy of the death certificate to prove the person you’re looking to remove is deceased.
- Notarized affidavit. This is a voluntary, sworn statement used by courts to confirm the death and your new ownership. It includes basic contact and information you’ll finalize in front of a notary public.
- The new deed. You and any new owners will need to sign and notarize the new property deed and provide it with your other paperwork.
Contact your local courthouse or county clerk to learn more about the specific requirements of your state and any laws of inheritance.
4. Submit the quitclaim or warranty form.
Submit your form at the county or city office where you got the original property deed. Depending on the state, this office could be the county clerk or the land registry.
Some jurisdictions require additional paperwork, like tax documents. Check with your local office to make sure you have everything you need.
5. Request a certified copy of your quitclaim or warranty deed.
Ask for a certified copy of the quitclaim or warranty deed when you file it. You may need to pay a small fee, but keeping it on file can be useful in case of a future property ownership dispute or amendment.
Common questions about property deeds
Does removing someone’s name from the deed eliminate their mortgage obligation?
Removing someone’s name from the property deed does not remove their responsibility to pay the mortgage on the property. You’ll need to consult your mortgage provider to change a name on the mortgage itself.
If a person is no longer financially responsible for making payments on the loan, you may need to refinance the mortgage with another lender.
What about an involuntary deed removal?
It can be complicated to remove a person’s name from a property deed when they don’t want it to be removed. You may need to go through a partition action, which is a lawsuit that forces co-owners to give up their ownership interests. Partition actions can be costly and time-intensive, so it’s best to use a mediator first.
Will I have to pay an excise tax?
It depends on your state of residence. Excise taxes are taxes paid when purchases are made on a specific good. Speak with a tax expert to determine whether you’re liable to pay excise taxes when the deed is presented for recording.
What’s the difference between a quitclaim deed and a warranty deed?
A quitclaim deed has no warranties or title, and only operates to turn property from a seller to a buyer. So if the seller owns a home, he can give a quitclaim deed to the buyer, and the seller’s entire interest has been transferred. A warranty deed says there is no outstanding claims on the property. It includes a statement that the grantor owns the property free and clear of all liens. This deed most often represents a transfer of property, tells the world that the grantor is the rightful owner, and can transfer that ownership when it is sold or exchanged.
Where can I find the legal description of a property?
You can access a legal property description from your local county recorder’s office typically with your municipal address or tax parcel ID number.
Do I need a witness when I sign the deed?
Many states require that you use a witness in addition to a notary public in order for the deed to be deemed valid, including:
- South Carolina
Louisiana requires two witnesses in addition to a notary public. Michigan, Ohio, and Vermont have required a witness in addition to the notary public in the past but no longer do so.