Alabama Quitclaim Deed Form
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What is an Alabama Quitclaim Deed Form?
An Alabama quitclaim deed form is a form of deed used to release all of the current owner’s interest in Alabama real estate to someone else. The new owner receives whatever interest the current owner has at the time and no more. If it turns out that the current owner did not own the property or if there are problems with title, the person named as the recipient in the quitclaim deed has no legal remedy.
Quitclaim deeds allocate the most risk to the new owner and the least risk to the prior owner. In Alabama, quitclaim deeds are often used to straighten out title issues. For example, if property is transferred without the signature of one owner, that owner may later sign a quitclaim deed just to clarify that he or she claims no interest in the property.
Quitclaim deeds are also used when no money is changing hands as part of the transfer (no consideration is given). This could occur, for example, if a person is transferring property to a family member by gift. Quitclaim deeds are also used to remove an ex-spouse from title to real estate following a divorce. Common uses include:
- To change the nature of marital property;
- To a living trust or business owned by the current owner;
- To someone who will own the property with the current owners (adding someone to the deed);
- From someone who no longer wishes to hold title (removing someone from the deed); or
- In other circumstances where the current owner does not want to be legally responsible for problems with title.
Other Names for an Alabama Quitclaim Deed Form
Although the correct legal name is quitclaim deed, these documents are often called quit claim deeds (with a space between quit and claim). These terms are interchangeable and using one over the other does not affect the validity of the deed. Quitclaim deeds are sometimes incorrectly called quick claim deeds.
In some states—like Texas—a deed without warranty (also called a no warranty deed) is often preferred as a substitute for a quitclaim deed. This is due to differences in how state law treats quitclaim deeds. There are no issues with quitclaim deeds in Alabama, so Alabama does not have deeds without warranty other than quitclaim deeds.
How do Alabama Quitclaim Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?
A quitclaim deed provides no warranty of title. It is simply a release of whatever interest the signer may have in the property. A person who signs a quitclaim deed makes no representations about whether he or she owns the property, whether the title is clear, or whether he or she has the right to transfer the property. The quitclaim deed simply releases whatever interest the current owner has to the new owner, leaving the new owner with no rights against the prior owner if there is a problem with the title to the property.
An Alabama quitclaim deed differs from both Alabama statutory warranty and Alabama general warranty deeds. Both statutory warranty and general warranty deeds convey property with a warranty of title.
- With a statutory warranty deed, the current owner guarantees he or she has done nothing to cause title issues while the property was in his or her possession but makes no promises about what may have happened before he or she owned the property.
- With a general warranty deed, the current owner guarantees full title to the property for all title issues, including those that arose before the current owner acquired the property.
These warranties of title distinguish statutory warranty deeds and general warranty deeds from quitclaim deeds, which contain no warranty of title.
Example: Ashley signs a quitclaim deed releasing a parcel of real estate to Brett. After the transfer, Brett finds out that Ashley transferred the property to Cohn several months before she quitclaimed the property to Brett. Had Ashley signed either a statutory warranty deed or a general warranty deed, Brett could sue Ashley for breaching the warranty. But because the deed was a quitclaim deed, Brett has no legal right to sue Ashley.
Life estate deeds are sometimes used in Alabama to avoid probate. The term life estate deed does not relate to the warranty of title. Instead, it designates the deed as an instrument that will transfer property on the death of the current owner. Because the term life estate deed deals with a different issue than warranty of title, a deed may be both a quitclaim deed and a life estate deed.
Assuming the person added to the deed outlives the original owner, the property will automatically transfer to that person at the original owner’s death. This approach should only be used if the owner is comfortable giving away part of the property during the owner’s life.
How to Create an Alabama Quitclaim Deed
Care must be taken to create a quitclaim deed that meets the specific requirements of Alabama law. Seemingly small differences in language can have legal consequences. For example, using the words grant, bargain, or sell in the deed can create implied warranties that classify the deed as a warranty deed. It is important to include language that conveys the property to the new owner in a way that ensures that the deed will qualify as a quitclaim deed.
The use of inconsistent language in a deed creates patent ambiguity—ambiguity that can be seen from the text of the document itself. Deeds with patent ambiguity can be tricky because no one—including title companies or buyers—know the legal status of the property. Patent ambiguity usually requires court proceedings or other curative action to straighten out the title to the property. This can be avoided by using deeds that contain correct and consistent language from the outset.
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