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 that should be removed from a property deed, you’ll typically complete a deed of conveyance.
Eliminating the ownership rights of those listed on a property deed typically involves removing the names from the deed and from 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. Here’s what you should know about removing a name from a property deed.
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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 the property owner leaving the deed and title to the remaining owners of the property, who intend to remain on the title.
Removing a name from the property deed requires five steps.
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.
Any transfer of ownership requires some knowledge of the form of property ownership under discussion, because each type is 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 on the other’s death.
When transferring property ownership, you’ll use one of two deeds of conveyance:
- A quitclaim deed. States that you have the right to convey a property without legal assurance that nobody else claims to own it.
- A warranty deed. States that you have the right to convey 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 when the property has multiple owners, among other situations. 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 and 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.
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4. Submit the quitclaim or warranty form.
Submit your form at the county or city office where you obtained the original property deed. Depending on the state, this office could be the county clerk or the land registry.
Some jurisdictions require additional paperwork to supplement the form, such as tax documents. Check with your local office to make sure you’ve completed all required paperwork.
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, however, 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 tells the person or group to whom the property is being transferred that the grantor doesn’t warrant what they own but is transferring the property the grantor thinks they own. A warranty deed more solidly guarantees that the seller owns and can transfer full and clear title of the property. It also certifies that the property is free of any easements, liens or other encumbrances on ownership.
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.