What is an Alaska Quitclaim Deed Form?
An Alaska quitclaim deed form conveys a property owner’s interest in real estate with no warranty of title. Because a quitclaim deed includes no warranty of title, the new owner acquires the property as-is and assumes the risk of problems with title.
When the property owner (grantor) signs an Alaska quitclaim deed, the deed transfers the current owner’s interest to the new owner (grantee) named in the deed.1 Unless the deed expressly states the current owner’s intent to convey a lesser interest, an Alaska quitclaim deed is assumed to pass the current owner’s entire ownership interest in the property.2
A warranty of title is the current owner’s enforceable promise that the title to real estate transferred by deed is free of defects or that any existing or potential defects have been disclosed. Because the current owner signing an Alaska quitclaim deed offers no warranty of title, the new owner receives whatever title the current owner possesses but has no recourse against the current owner if a title defect later emerges. For instance, if the property is subject to an unknown lien or another person asserts superior title to the property, the new owner cannot sue the former owner for breaching a warranty. The new owner bears the entire risk of a title defect.
Other Names for an Alaska Quitclaim Deed Form
Alaska law uses the term quitclaim deed, and the similar term quit claim deed is also acceptable.3 However, the erroneous term quick claim deed is a misnomer and is not a legitimate legal term. Quitclaim deeds are also sometimes called release deeds—particularly when the purpose of the deed is for the property owner to relinquish an interest in the property.
A bargain and sale deed is very similar to a quitclaim deed in that it does not come with any express warranty of title. Although some jurisdictions interpret bargain and sale deeds to include an implied warranty that the current owner legitimately holds title, Alaska law disfavors implied covenants within deeds.4 Under Alaska law, quitclaim deeds are deemed sufficient to transfer whatever property interest the owner could transfer via a bargain and sale deed.5
As used in Alaska, quitclaim can also be a verb—referring to the action of conveying a property interest via quitclaim deed.6 A property owner who quitclaims an interest in Alaska real estate transfers the owner’s interest in the property to the new owner with no warranty of title.
Although many states’ real estate statutes reference quitclaim deeds, a few states do not expressly authorize or recognize quitclaim deeds. In those states, a no warranty deed or deed without warranty accomplishes the same fundamental purpose—that is, transfers title with no warranty.7
How do Alaska Quitclaim Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?
A quitclaim deed form is one of sevearl types of deeds recognized in Alaska. Whereas Alaska quitclaim deeds transfer real estate with no warranty of title, Alaska law also recognizes two deed forms—warranty deeds and special warranty deeds—that do include warranty of title.
- Warranty Deeds. An Alaska warranty deed form—sometimes called a general warranty deed or statutory warranty deed—transfers real estate with full warranty of title.8 When executing an Alaska warranty deed, a property owner promises that title to the property is free of any undisclosed liens or title defects. The warranty extends to both the period during which the current owner owned the property and the period before the current owner took title. Thus, a property owner who signs a warranty deed bears the entire risk of a title defect emerging after the conveyance.
- Special Warranty Deeds. An Alaska special warranty deed form transfers real estate with warranty of title similar to general warranty deeds but subject to a critical distinction. A special warranty deed only guarantees clear title for the period while the current owner owned the property. The current and new owners share the risk of a title defect. The current owner bears the risk of title defects that arose while the current owner held title, and the new owner assumes the risk for the time before the current owner took title.
An Alaska deed cannot be both a quitclaim deed and a general or special warranty deed. However, Alaska also recognizes a few other specialized deed forms denominated according to the particular estate planning purposes for which they are intended. The following specialized deed forms could also be a quitclaim deed depending on the circumstances:
- Life Estate Deeds. Life estate deeds transfer or reserve real estate ownership for life and name a successor to receive the interest after the life estate holder’s death;9
- Transfer-on-Death Deeds. Transfer-on-death deeds, also called TOD deeds or beneficiary deeds, convey a real estate owner’s interest to a beneficiary but only become effective upon the current owner’s death;10 and
- Executor’s Deeds. Executor’s deeds are used in probate proceedings to convey a real estate interest from a deceased owner’s estate to the deceased owner’s heir or beneficiary or a purchaser or assignee of the estate.11
Common Uses of Alaska Quitclaim Deed Forms
Quitclaim deeds are typically used when the current owner and new owner have a relationship predating the conveyance or when the transaction is intended to change the property’s ownership without affecting actual control of the property. A quitclaim deed might be appropriate in the following scenarios.
- A current owner conveys real estate to the current owner and the owner’s spouse jointly so that the couple owns the property as tenants by the entirety.
- A current owner conveys real estate to a trust of which the owner is trustee or beneficiary.
- A current owner conveys real estate to a business entity owned or controlled by the property owner.
- A current owner conveys real estate to a charity or a close family member for significantly below fair market value or as a gift.
- After inheriting a partial interest in a property, the owner of the partial interest conveys the interest to another part-owner—often a family member—to remove a part-owner’s name from the title and allow the other owner to solely own the real estate.
- The executor of an estate quitclaims real estate previously owned by the deceased person to the designated beneficiary.
- As part of a property settlement agreement associated with a divorce, a former spouse conveys an interest in real estate to the other former spouse.
Due to the risk of title defects, purchasers of real estate in arms-length transactions are often reluctant to accept quitclaim deeds. When a current owner is unwilling to provide warranty of title, a new owner can purchase title insurance, thereby shifting the risk of a title defect to the insurance company.12 Because insurance carriers that issue title insurance investigate a property’s title before issuing a policy, purchasing title insurance also increases the likelihood that any title defects will be identified before closing.
How to Create an Alaska Quitclaim Deed
Depending on the jurisdiction, quitclaim deeds can be authorized by statute, recognized under common law, or both. In Alaska, the Legislature authorizes quitclaim deeds and provides model vesting language within AK ST §34.15.040(a):
The grantor [CURRENT OWNER NAME AND RESIDENTIAL ADDRESS], for and in consideration of [CONSIDERATION FOR TRANSFER] conveys and quitclaims to [NEW OWNER] all interest which I (we) have, if any, in the following described real estate [VALID LEGAL DESCRIPTION OF PROPERTY], located in the State of Alaska. [DATE OF EXECUTION]
While the suggested language is not strictly mandatory for Alaska quitclaim deeds, using the suggested language—or a close approximation—is recommended. If a deed substantially includes the model language, Alaska law presumes the deed is a quitclaim deed.13 A deed with imprecise language may be interpreted as providing a warranty of title when none was intended.
The model language in AK ST §34.15.040(a) alone cannot create a valid Alaska deed. The statute only suggests vesting language, but that language is only a starting point. Alaska law imposes numerous additional requirements that must be satisfied to create a recordable deed instrument that effectively conveys Alaska real estate.14 A document that does not meet all statutory requirements may be unrecordable or fail to formally transfer title to property. Similarly, a document that does not include a proper legal description could be invalid for failure to adequately describe the property.
The language necessary to distinguish between a quitclaim deed, general warranty deed, or special warranty deed varies from state to state. Deeds must be carefully drafted to include the precise language for the desired deed form. A carelessly prepared deed that extends an unintended warranty—or neglects to extend an intended warranty—can lead to significant long-term consequences for both the current owner and the new owner.
- AK ST §34.15.050.
- AK ST §34.15.070(a).
- AK ST §34.15.040(b).
- AK ST §34.15.080.
- AK ST §34.15.050.
- AK ST §34.15.040(a).
- See, e.g., Tex. Prop. Code §5.023 (implying certain warranties “unless the conveyance expressly provides otherwise”).
- AK ST §34.15.030(a).
- See AK ST §09.45.260.
- See AK ST §13.48.010.
- See AK ST §34.25.050.
- See AK ST §21.66.480(6).
- AK ST §34.15.040(b).
- See, e.g., AK ST §40.17.030; AK ST §34.15.010.