Alabama Warranty Deed Form

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What is an Alabama Warranty Deed Form?

An Alabama general warranty deed form is a legal document that transfers Alabama real estate with the broadest warranty of all Alabama deed forms. A person who signs an Alabama general warranty deed is responsible for all title issues, even those that arose before he or she owned the property. Because of this full warranty, it provides the most protection to the new owner and the highest risk to the prior owner.

An Alabama general warranty deed form provides a full warranty of title. When a person signs a general warranty deed, he or she makes these promises, called covenants of title:

  • That the person signing the deed owns (has “title and possession” of) the real estate described in the deed (covenant of seisen);
  • That the person signing the deed has the legal right to convey full ownership (fee simple title) of the property (covenant of right to convey);
  • That there are no liens (mortgages, tax liens, etc.) against the property (covenant against encumbrances);
  • That no one else has a superior claim that would disturb the new owner’s use of the property (covenant of quiet enjoyment); and
  • That the person signing the deed will legally defend the new owner if any claims arise from anyone else or if the new owner suffers any loss due to title issues (warranty/covenant of further assurance).

Each of these warranties covers both the time that the current owner owned the property and any preceding period. This means that the person signing the deed is responsible for any breach of the covenants described above, even if that breach was caused by something that happened before that person owned the property.

Many buyers and sellers use title insurance to protect against loss associated with title problems. Title insurance shifts the risk of loss from the person signing the deed to the title insurance company. Sellers like this because they can walk away from the property without worrying about title issues that they might not even know about. Buyers also like title insurance because it gives them a solvent insurance company to guarantee title (instead of an individual seller, who may die or become bankrupt). In modern Alabama real estate practice, title insurance is almost always purchased when property is being sold.

Other Names for an Alabama General Warranty Deed Form

In Alabama, a general warranty deed may also be called a warranty deed. The word general is preferred, though, because it distinguishes a general warranty deed from a statutory (or special) warranty deed, which provides a warranty that is limited to the period when the person signing the deed owned the property.

How Do Alabama Warranty Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?

The full warranty provided by Alabama general warranty deed forms creates the greatest risk to the prior owner and the most protection for the new owner. Other Alabama deed forms provide less of a warranty.

  • An Alabama statutory warranty deed form (also known as a special warranty deed) provides a warranty of title that is limited to the time when the person signing the deed owned the property. It makes no promises about what may have happened before the signer acquired the property.
  • An Alabama quitclaim deed form provides no warranty of title. A person who receives property through a quitclaim deed acquires whatever interest was owned by the person who signed the deed. But if that person didn’t own the property—or if there were title issues—the recipient has no legal action against the person who signed the deed.

An Alabama general warranty deed is, by definition, a deed with a full warranty of title. Other deeds have different names that do not depend on the warranty of title. For example, a deed conveying property to a living trust or a life estate deed (to avoid probate) may have a general warranty of title. This means that a deed can be both a general warranty deed and a life estate deed or trustee’s deed.

Attorney Practice Note: Alabama does not recognize lady bird deeds (which are popular in a handful of states, like Florida, Michigan, and Texas) or transfer-on-death deeds (which are used in many other states).

Common Uses of Alabama General Warranty Deed Forms

Warranty deeds are most often used in the sale context when a buyer is purchasing real estate from a seller. Because the seller is receiving money for the property, the seller may be willing to sign a deed that provides broad protection to the buyer. This is especially true if the buyer or seller will buy title insurance, which reduces the risk to the seller. If bank financing is involved, the lender may require a warranty deed.

How to Create an Alabama General Warranty Deed

Unlike Alabama statutory warranty deed forms, which are authorized by statute, the form for Alabama general warranty deed has been developed mostly by case law going back to at least 1944. This case law—coupled with title insurance requirements—provides the foundation for creating a general warranty deed. In addition to the correct language in the vesting paragraph, the deed will usually include a warranty similar to this one:

This deed is intended to constitute a general warranty deed. Grantor does, individually and for the heirs, executors, and administrators of Grantor, with the Grantee and the heirs and assigns of the Grantee that Grantor is lawfully seized in fee simple of the property; that the property is free from all encumbrances except as to reservations and exceptions described herein; that the Grantor has a good right to sell and convey the property; that the Grantor and the heirs, executors, and administrators of the Grantor shall warrant and defend the property to the Grantee and the heirs and assigns of the Grantee forever, against the lawful claims of all persons.

The warranty deed must also include all of the elements of a valid deed, including an accurate legal description, statement of consideration, and a description of the manner in which co-owners will hold title. It must also meet Alabama’s font size, page format, signature, and notarization requirements.

Failure to include the correct language can result in a deed that is invalid or, perhaps worse, contains contradictions that require a costly legal proceeding to resolve. To minimize this risk, it is important to use the correct language.

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