What Is an Arkansas Quitclaim Deed Form?
An Arkansas quitclaim deed is one of three deed forms Arkansas recognizes for transferring real estate during the owner’s life. The distinguishing feature of quitclaim deeds is that they transfer the current owner’s interest with no warranty or covenants of title.1 The new owner (the grantee) receives whatever ownership interest, if any, the current owner (the grantor) can legally transfer. The current owner, though, makes no promises about the status or existence of the transferred interest.2
What Is Warranty of Title?
Warranty of title is a guarantee—made by a property owner signing a deed—that the deed transfers good, clear title to the property. The warranty is typically made of several legal promises called covenants of title.
An Arkansas deed with general warranty of title includes the following covenants of title from the current owner who signs the deed:
- Covenant of seisin. The current owner holds good title to the property.
- Covenant of right to convey. The current owner has the legal right to transfer the property.
- Covenant against encumbrance. The property is subject to no liens, mortgages, assessments, or other encumbrances not disclosed in the deed.
- Covenant of quiet enjoyment. The new owner’s possession of the property will not be disturbed by legal claims of third parties.
- Covenant of general warranty. The current owner will accept responsibility for any title problems that happen to arise. Foster, Lynn and J. Cliff McKinney II,3
Warranty of title protects the new owner by making the prior owner who gave the warranty legally responsible for problems with the property’s title. Title problems could include liens, errors in earlier documents that raise doubts about the title’s validity, or absence of a legal right to physically access the real estate.4
Warranty of Title and Arkansas Quitclaim Deeds
An Arkansas quitclaim deed has the same capacity to transfer title to real estate as Arkansas’ other deed forms. However—because a quitclaim deed has no covenants or warranty of title—the transferor does not promise that the transferee actually will receive good, clear title to the property. The transferee acquires whatever interest the transferor possesses but has no recourse under the deed if the interest is imperfect or nonexistent.5
A quitclaim deed by itself does not imply that there are problems with the property’s title. The deed is neutral—transferring title effectively as is and placing the risk of title problems on the new owner.
Other Names for an Arkansas Quitclaim Deed Form
Arkansas courts and statutes favor the name quitclaim deed for deeds that transfer real estate with no covenants or warranty of title.6 Quit-claim deed and quit claim deed are also proper spellings.7 Quitclaim deeds often use the word quitclaim as a verb when describing the transfer.8
Other states also use the following terms for deeds with the same function as an Arkansas quitclaim deed.
- Release deed. A release deed in Arkansas is usually a document releasing a lien or deed of trust against property.9 Some states use release deed for deeds under which an owner releases an interest to another person. For example, it can describe a deed releasing partial rights from a co-owner to the other co-owner or a deed resolving a boundary dispute.10
- No-warranty deed or deed without warranty. Lawyers in some states call a deed transferring property without covenants of title a no-warranty deed or deed without warranty. These terms avoid chain-of-title issues make it easier to get title insurance in states that don’t use the name quitclaim deed.
- Quitclaim deed without covenant. A small number of states imply one or more covenants of title in ordinary quitclaim deeds.11 A quitclaim deed without covenant allows transfers with no covenants of title in those states.
How Do Arkansas Quitclaim Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?
An Arkansas quitclaim deed form provides no warranty of title. It puts all risk of title problems on the new owner. Arkansas recognizes other deed forms that limit the new owner’s exposure to financial losses caused by title problems by placing the risk or part of the risk on the current owner.
Arkansas General Warranty Deed
An Arkansas general warranty deed form—or just a warranty deed—transfers ownership of real estate with complete warranty of title. The current owner guarantees good title—subject to no outstanding liens, taxes, or other encumbrances—and agrees to take responsibility for any title problems. The new owner has a right to sue the current owner who signed the deed for breach of warranty if issues with the property’s title emerge after the transfer.12
A warranty deed’s guarantee covers title problems at any point in the property’s chain of title up to the date of the deed. The property owner who signs an Arkansas warranty deed bears all risk of title problems that existed up to that date even if the owner didn’t know about a problem when signing the deed.
Arkansas Special Warranty Deed
An Arkansas special warranty deed transfers property to the new owner with a partial or limited warranty. The current owner promises the new owner good title that is free of liens, assessments, taxes, or other encumbrances and will not be disturbed by third-party claims.13 However, the guarantee covers only title problems caused or allowed by the current owner and excludes all others.
A special warranty deed divides the risk of title problems between the current owner and the new owner. The current owner is responsible for problems that arose while the current owner held title, while the new owner bears the risk of anything else.
Title Insurance and Arkansas Quitclaim Deeds
An owner who takes title to Arkansas property under a quitclaim deed is not protected by a warranty in the deed. The owner is exposed to potential financial loss if problems arise with the property’s title. A property owner can lower the risk of financial loss with title insurance—an insurance contract that protects against the same types of problems as warranty of title.14
A title insurance policy shifts the risk of problems with a property’s title to an insurance company. The insurer charges a lump-sum premium when issuing the policy. In return, the insurance company promises to pay the insured person—which can be the owner, a seller, or a lender—for financial loss caused by covered title problems.
Quitclaim Deeds and Other Arkansas Deeds Used in Estate Planning
Quitclaim deeds, warranty deeds, and special warranty deeds transfer property during the owner’s life and take effect as soon as the deed is signed and recorded. Arkansas estate-planning deeds are designed to transfer ownership at the owner’s death and allow real estate to bypass probate.
- Arkansas beneficiary deed. An Arkansas beneficiary deed form is the same as a transfer-on-death (TOD) deed in other states. Beneficiary deeds are recorded during a property owner’s life and transfer title to a named beneficiary when the owner dies.15 The beneficiary receives no interest in the property during the owner’s life.16 The owner retains the right to amend or revoke a beneficiary deed—or sell or transfer the real estate–until the owner’s death.17
- Life estate deed. An Arkansas life estate deed gives one person (the life tenant) the right to possess property for life.18 Another person—called the remainderman or remainder beneficiary—receives the right to take title when the life tenant dies. Life estate deeds created for estate planning often name the current owner as life tenant and a close relative as remainder beneficiary. Life estate deeds allow real estate to avoid probate but have a downside—the owner gives up the right to sell or transfer complete title after creating a life estate deed.
Common Uses of Arkansas Quitclaim Deed Forms
Arkansas property owners typically use quitclaim deeds for transactions not involving sale of the real estate. An Arkansas quitclaim deed is often appropriate for changing how property is titled without affecting possession or transferring property as a gift. Sellers conveying Arkansas real estate to a purchaser for valuable consideration mostly use warranty deeds or special warranty deeds.
An Arkansas real estate owner can use a quitclaim deed to accomplish any of the following objectives not involving a sale for fair market value:
- Add another owner to the title. A sole owner can record a deed in favor of the owner and another person to create a joint tenancy with right of survivorship. This allows a surviving co-owner to take full title without probate.19 If the new co-owners are a married couple, the quitclaim deed can instead create a tenancy by the entirety—another Arkansas co-ownership form with a right of survivorship.20
- Transfer property to a trust. An owner can use a quitclaim deed to transfer legal title to a living trust created for the owner’s estate plan.21 Revocable living trusts are sometimes used in place of traditional wills. They allow an owner to keep possession of property for life and transfer title to a successor beneficiary—with no need for probate—when the owner dies.
- Divide marital property. Former spouses who co-own Arkansas real estate can use a quitclaim deed to divide marital property under a divorce decree or property settlement agreement.
How to Create an Arkansas Quitclaim Deed
The Arkansas Code provides no statutory conveyance form for quitclaim deeds. Quitclaim deeds must generally meet the requirements that apply to all Arkansas deeds. A quitclaim deed must also omit any language suggesting the owner is providing warranty of title.
Arkansas Quitclaim Deed Requirements
An Arkansas quitclaim deed typically states that the current owner “grants, conveys, and quitclaims” the property to the new owner—or very similar language. Quitclaim deeds must avoid the words grants, bargains, and sells—which often appear in other Arkansas deeds—because Arkansas law implies covenants of warranty when those words are included.22
Quitclaim deeds, by definition, must exclude express covenants of title. Arkansas law does not require a disclaimer of warranty or covenants of title in a quitclaim deed—though a disclaimer helps avoid ambiguity over the owner’s intent.
Other requirements for an effective Arkansas quitclaim deed depend on the owner’s goal in creating the deed. An owner using a quitclaim deed to add a co-owner to the property’s title—for example—should specify the co-ownership form in which the co-owners will hold title.23
Arkansas General Deed Requirements
An Arkansas quitclaim deed must meet Arkansas’ legal requirements for all deeds. The Arkansas Code sets standards for formatting, necessary information, and signing. Statutory requirements include:
- Formatting. Arkansas deeds must be printed on standard letter-size paper, with a 2½-inch top margin on the first page and bottom margin on the last page.24 The first page’s top margin must have a blank area in the right corner large enough for the recorder’s file mark.25
- Information requirements. An Arkansas deed must include—among other things—a document title, the names of the grantor and grantee and the preparer’s name and address.26
- Signing. A deed must have the owner’s original, notarized signature, along with the owner’s spouse’s signature if the owner is married.27 The new owner must also sign the deed to certify that documentary stamps have been purchased for transfer tax or that the deed is exempt.28
Selecting an Arkansas Quitclaim Deed Form
Every state has its own unique real estate laws governing deeds. Deed laws often vary greatly between states. An Arkansas quitclaim deed form must be designed to follow Arkansas law. A quitclaim deed based on another state’s real estate laws may fail to transfer Arkansas real estate, be unable to be recorded in the county recorder’s office, or lead to unexpected legal problems in Arkansas.
- See Holmes v. Countiss, 115 S.W. 2d 553 (Ark. 1938).
- Hill v. Gilliam, 682 S.W. 2d 737 (Ark. 1985).
- Deed Covenants of Title and the Preparation of Deeds: Theory Law and Practice in Arkansas, 34 U. ARK. LITTLE ROCK L. REV. 53 (2011), citing Seldon v. Dudley E. Jones Co., 85 S.W. 778 (Ark. 1905).
- See Ark. Code § 23-103-403(12).
- See Hill v. Gilliam, 682 S.W.2d 737 (Ark. 1985).
- See, e.g., Ark. Code § 22-5-409, Holmes v. Countiss, 115 S.W. 2d 553 (Ark. 1938).
- See, e.g., Hill v. Gilliam, 682 S.W. 2d 737 (Ark. 1985).
- See, e.g., Ark. Code § 28-68-204(2).
- See, e.g., Ark. Code § 18-40-107(b), Rhine v. Mack, 108 S.W.2d 1079 (Ark. 1937).
- See, e.g., Whitt v. Whitt, No. 02-CA-93 (Ohio Ct. App., 2003); Henningsen v. Stromberg, 221 P.2d 438 (Mont. 1950).
- See, e.g., S.D. Cod. Laws § 43-25-11, 33 Maine Rev. Stat. § 765.
- Ark. Code § 18-12-102(c).
- Ark. Code § 18-12-102(b).
- Ark. Code § 23-103-403(12).
- Ark. Code §§ 18-12-608(a) and (c).
- Ark. Code § 18-12-608(a)(1)(B)(ii).
- Ark. Code § 18-12-608(d)(1).
- See Ark. Code § 18-12-301.
- Ark. Code § 18-12-106(b).
- See Black v. Black, 135 S.W.2d 837 (Ark. 1940).
- Ark. Code § 18-12-604.
- Ark. Code § 18-12-102(b).
- See Ark. Code §§ 18-12-603; 18-12-106(a).
- Ark. Code §§ 14-15-402(b)(1)(A)-(b)(1)(B).
- Ark. Code § 14-15-402(b)(1)(C).
- Ark. Code §§ 14-15-402(b)(1)(D)(i); 14-15-403(a)(1).
- Ark. Code §§ 18-12-104; 18-12-403; 14-15-402(b)(1)(E); 28-11-201(a).
- Ark. Code § 26-60-110(b).