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A deed is essentially a piece of paper that transfers interest in land from one person, called the grantor, to another, called the grantee. It's essentially a real estate contract. To be legally effective, it must be signed by the grantor and describe the land being conveyed. A quitclaim deed, sometimes erroneously referred to as a "quick claim deed" or "quit claim deed," is one type of deed. There are also warranty deeds — both a special warranty deed and a general warranty deed. The deed transfers whatever interest the grantor has in the property to the grantee.
There is an important limitation to this type of deed. Because it only transfers the rights that the grantor has in the property, it does not guarantee that the property is the grantee's outright. If others with an interest in the property have not signed the deed, then their rights are unaffected by this document — they still retain their ownership. In most cases, the signed quitclaim deed is a simple and effective way to give up all interest in a property.
Another popular type of deed is the general warranty deed. In comparison to the general warranty deed, the quitclaim deed is relatively bare bones. While the deed only transfers whatever interest the grantor has, the general warranty deed, by contrast, comes with six covenants (or promises): (1) covenant of seisin: that the grantor does in fact have ownership, (2) covenant of right to convey: that the grantor has the power to convey the interest in the land, (3) covenant against encumbrances: that the title comes without encumbrances such as mortgages or liens, (4) covenant for quiet enjoyment: that third parties won't have any legal claim to the title, (5) covenant of warranty: the grantor will back up the grantee's rights should a third party present a legal claim to the property, and (6) covenant for further assurances: that the grantor will do whatever is reasonably necessary to perfect the grantee's title should there be an imperfection.
While you may be more certain in what you are getting with a general warranty deed, a quitclaim deed can be a good option too. It's particularly useful when there is a cloud of title — when someone else might have a claim to the to the property. While these deeds don't necessarily give you an interest in property that's free and clear, they at least give you the interest that the grantor had.
Alternatively, when there is no concern over other claims of ownership, the quitclaim is a simpler way to pass interest. In fact, it's frequently used in intra-family transfers. The quitclaim deed, for example, is commonly used in divorces. If the family home is not to be sold to another party with the shared proceeds, then this type of deed is a real estate necessity. When one of the people involved in the divorce is keeping the home, the other person needs to quitclaim his or her interest in the house.
There are other uses to the quitclaim deed. If siblings inherit a family home and share ownership with other brothers and sisters, a quitclaim can be used to sell the home. One of the siblings can sell their share in the home to another and use a quitclaim to turn over all their rights and interests of the property with the sale.