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Guide to Understanding
Quitclaim Deeds

A quitclaim deed is a term used in property law to describe a document by which a person (the "grantor") disclaims any interest the grantor might have in a piece of real property, and passes that claim to another person (the grantee). A quitclaim deed neither warrants nor professes that the grantor's claim is actually valid. By comparison, a grant deed (or in some U.S. States, a warranty deed), which is normally used for real estate sales, contains certain warranties that vary from State to State. Quitclaim deeds are sometimes used for transfers between family members, gifts, or to eliminate clouds on title, or in other special or unusual circumstances.

An example of a circumstance where a quitclaim may be used is where one spouse (grantor) is disclaiming any interest in property that the other spouse (grantee) owns. A quitclaim deed would typically be used in this circumstance.

Another common form of deed similar to a quitclaim deed is the tax deed, which is used by government authorities when selling properties seized for nonpayment of taxes, as the authority will not promise that the buyer will obtain clear title to the property. It may be possible to obtain such assurances, for a fee, from a title insurance company or an attorney who performs a title search.

In most common law jurisdictions, a quitclaim deed is not technically considered to be a deed at all and in some jurisdictions a buyer who receives a quitclaim deed may not be considered a bona fide purchaser for value unless the quitclaim deed meets certain requirements. It fails to meet all five traditional tests of a true deed found in common law. Instead it is considered to be an instrument of estoppel, which means it estops or prevents the grantor of the quitclaim deed from later claiming that he or she has an interest in the property. Title companies may be unwilling to issue title insurance based on a quitclaim deed; thus, quitclaim deed holders may have to obtain further proof that a bona fide sale occurred or institute a "quiet title" action in a court to obtain clear title.

The grantee in a quitclaim deed (or a grant deed or warranty deed) receives no better title than what the grantor possessed.

A Quit Claim Deed may not release the party quitting claim to real property from their obligations under any mortgage or other lien secured against said property. The most accessible means of being released from one's obligations under a mortgage pursuant to the execution of a quit claim deed is through refinancing. The party to whom the property was conveyed must refinance the property using their own income, assets and credit, and may not use the income, assets or credit of the party who has quit claim.

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