Colorado Deed Forms for Real Estate Transfers

Need to transfer Colorado real estate?

Our deed creation software makes it easy. Just complete a user-friendly interview and get a customized deed that is attorney-designed to meet Colorado recording requirements.

Get Your Deed Today

What types of deeds are used to transfer Colorado real estate?

Colorado law recognizes four general deed forms for transferring real estate.1 The principal distinction between the deed forms is the warranty of title provided by the property owner signing the deed. Warranty of title is the owner’s promise that the real estate’s title is free from undisclosed defects—like outstanding liens, mortgages, or adverse claims. Although the four deed forms are rooted in common law, Colorado recognizes each by statute.

Colorado General Warranty Deed Form

Colorado general warranty deed form transfers real estate with the most comprehensive warranty of title.2 When signing a Colorado general warranty deed, the current owner makes five promises to the new owner:

  1. The current owner holds complete title to the real estate.
  2. The current owner has the power to transfer the real estate.
  3. The property is subject to no outstanding liens or similar claims the current owner has not disclosed.
  4. No third party will, in the future, assert superior title to the property.
  5. If any claims arise, the current owner will defend the new owner’s title.3

Colorado’s statute consolidates the five promises within three statutory “covenants of warranty” enumerated within C.R.S. § 38-30-113(4)(a)(I – III).

A Colorado general warranty deed provides a warranty of title that is not limited by time. It extends to both the period when the current owner held title and any time before the current owner took title. The current owner therefore bears all the risk of defects in the real estate’s title.

Colorado’s statute refers to general warranty deeds as just warranty deeds. Some jurisdictions call them statutory warranty deeds—particularly when the deed form is based on specific statutory language. The term general warranty deed is useful in differentiating warranty deeds from special warranty deeds, which provide a less comprehensive warranty of title.4

Colorado Special Warranty Deed Form

A Colorado special warranty deed form transfers real estate with the same warranty of title as a general warranty deed—except the warranty is limited to the time while the current owner owned the real estate.5 When using a special warranty deed, the current property owner and new owner share the risk of title defects—depending on when a defect arose.

Colorado law assumes a deed is a special warranty deed if it states that the owner “sells and conveys” real estate and “warrants the title to the same against all persons claiming under me.”6 Special warranty deeds are sometimes called limited warranty deeds, grant deeds, or covenant deeds in other jurisdictions.

Colorado Quitclaim Deed Form

A Colorado quitclaim deed form transfers a property owner’s current ownership interest in real estate, if any, with no warranty of title.7 The current owner does not guaranty the absence of title defects or that the current owner legitimately owns an interest in the property.8 The new owner therefore bears all risk of title defects.

Colorado quitclaim deeds substitute the word quitclaims for the word conveys in the deed’s vesting language—the phrase or phrases describing the real estate transfer.9 Quitclaim deeds are sometimes called release deeds—especially when the person signing the deed is relinquishing any claim on the property in favor of another owner. Quitclaim can be written as quit claim, but quickclaim deed is never correct.

Colorado Bargain and Sale Deed Form

A Colorado bargain and sale deed form is similar to a Colorado quitclaim deed in that a bargain and sale deed also transfers real estate with no warranty of title.10 Under Colorado law, the difference between the two is that a bargain and sale deed passes any interest in the real estate the current owner acquires after the deed is signed. A quitclaim deed only transfers whatever title the current owner holds when executing the deed.11

Questions about what Colorado deed form is right for you?

Click the link below to use our guided interview. We’ll go over the options that are available in Colorado and provide guidance on choosing the deed form that matches your goals.

Get Your Deed Today

What types of estate planning deeds are used in Colorado?

The four Colorado deed forms described above are distinguished by the warranty of title provided by the current owner. Colorado recognizes multiple additional deed forms defined by the specialized purpose served by each.

  • Beneficiary Deeds. Also called transfer on death deeds or TOD deeds, a Colorado beneficiary deed form is a valuable tool for estate planning—enabling a property owner to name a beneficiary to receive title to real estate upon the current owner’s death.12 Beneficiary deeds must satisfy requirements generally applicable to all Colorado deeds and specific to beneficiary deeds.13 Colorado law assumes that beneficiary deeds convey property with the same warranty of title as a bargain and sale deed, but an individual beneficiary deed can specify otherwise.14
  • Life Estate Deed. Colorado life estate deeds are rooted in common law and have declined in popularity since the Colorado Legislature authorized beneficiary deeds.15 When signing a life estate deed, a property owner conveys or reserves a real estate interest that endures for the remainder of a life tenant’s life. When the life tenant dies, title vests in a designated remainderman named in the life estate deed. Because the life tenant must respect the remainderman’s interest, a life estate limits the life tenant’s rights to use or transfer the property. On the other hand, beneficiary deeds are revocable and do not limit the owner’s use of the real estate during life.16
  • Personal Representative Deed. The court-appointed representative of a deceased person’s estate uses a Colorado personal representative deed to transfer property from the estate to an heir, purchaser, or other assignee.17 Personal representative deeds are used in probate proceedings and are comparable to executor’s deeds in other states.
  • Public Trustee’s Deed. A public trustee’s deed is issued by a county’s appointed public trustee after a foreclosure sale is conducted under a deed of trust.18 In some counties, the county treasurer serves as public trustee.19
  • Tax Deed. A county treasurer issues a treasurer’s deed—also called a tax deed—following a suit to enforce a lien for past-due real estate tax.20
  • Sheriff’s Deed. The county sheriff issues a sheriff’s deed after selling Colorado real estate resulting from execution on a civil judgment.21

Need a Colorado transfer-on-death deed?

In states that recognize them, transfer-on-death-deeds (sometimes called beneficiary deeds) are popular probate avoidance tools. Our TOD deed creation software makes it easy to create one. Click the link below to get started.

Get a TOD Deed Today

What are the ways that multiple owners can co-own Colorado real estate?

Colorado law assumes that—when two or more persons co-own real estate—they co-own the property as tenants in common.22 Tenants in common own distinct, fractional interests in real estate. They can separately transfer ownership interests during life or upon death—such as by will or using a beneficiary deed.23

Colorado law also recognizes joint tenancy—a form of joint ownership with a right of survivorship.24 Due to the right of survivorship, when one joint tenant dies, that joint tenant’s interest in the real estate automatically vests in the surviving joint tenant. A deceased joint tenant’s interest does not pass through probate.

A surviving joint tenant can claim full title by recording a certificate of death and supplemental affidavit with the clerk and recorder for the county where the real estate is located.25 A life estate deed’s remainderman or beneficiary deed’s beneficiary formally accepts title to Colorado real estate using the same process.26

A Colorado deed creating a joint tenancy must state that the real estate is conveyed to the new owners “as joint tenants,” “in joint tenancy with right of survivorship,” or in a similar manner indicating the property owner’s intent to create a joint tenancy.27 Joint tenancy can only be used for co-ownership by natural persons—or actual human beings rather than entities—except that a personal representative, trustee, or fiduciary can also be a joint tenant.28 Colorado differs from most jurisdictions in that Colorado joint tenants can hold unequal shares in the real estate.29

Colorado law does not recognize tenancy by the entirety—a form of co-ownership similar to joint tenancy but only available for married spouses. A Colorado deed that purports to create a tenancy by the entirety is treated as creating a joint tenancy.30

Joint owners of Colorado real estate can effectively co-own real estate by transferring the property to a trust with multiple beneficiaries. The trustee or the trust itself formally holds title.31 The owners enjoy the benefits of the real estate as beneficiaries without holding legal title.32

What are the rules regarding ownership of Colorado real estate by a married couple?

Spouses can co-own Colorado real estate as tenants in common—in which case they each own separate fractional interests—or as joint tenants with right of survivorship.33 Colorado does not recognize tenancy by the entirety.34

When one spouse separately owns homesteaded Colorado real estate, Colorado’s homestead laws require the non-owner spouse’s signature and consent to transfer the property.35 However, if neither spouse records a homestead declaration and homestead rights arise only by operation of law, the owner spouse is free to convey the property without the other spouse’s consent.36 If either spouse files a homestead declaration with the county clerk and recorder, both spouses must consent to a transfer of the property by signing the deed.37

Another spousal protection provided by Colorado law—the spousal elective share—can affect real estate in a deceased spouse’s probate estate. Colorado’s spousal elective share gives a surviving spouse a one-half interest in a deceased spouse’s estate—even if a will says otherwise.38 The elective share is waivable through a valid pre- or post-nuptial agreement and is an important estate planning consideration when either spouse has heirs who are not also the heirs of the other spouse.39

Where are deeds filed in Colorado?

Colorado deeds are filed and recorded in the land records maintained by the county clerk and recorder’s office for the county where the transferred real estate is located.40 Deeds may be filed in paper format or electronically, depending on the filer’s technological access.41

Within seven days of filing, the clerk indexes the deed—documenting information such as the parties’ names and the description of the real estate.42 A recorded deed serves as formal notice of the transfer to future creditors, purchasers, or any other third parties who might claim an interest in the property.43

A completed Real Property Transfer Declaration—a document published by the Colorado Department of Revenue as form TD-1000—must accompany any Colorado deed transferring title to real estate.44 The county government uses the transfer declaration in calculating property taxes but does not record it in the land records.45

What is the cost to file a Colorado deed?

The person requesting recording of a Colorado deed must pay a filing fee of $13.00 for the first page and $5.00 for each additional page.46 The filing fee includes a $3.00 surcharge earmarked for Colorado’s electronic recording filing fund.47

Deeds conveying Colorado real estate with a purchase price over $500.00 are subject to an additional documentary fee similar to the transfer taxes charged in other states.48 The documentary fee is assessed at a rate of $0.01 for each $100.00 paid for the real estate.

At the time of recording, the filer must either pay the documentary fee to the clerk and recorder’s office or—if claiming an exemption—state the basis for the exemption.49 The following deeds are exempt from Colorado’s documentary fee:

  • Deeds conveying real estate to or from a governmental agency;
  • Deeds transferring real estate as a gift or for less than $500 of consideration;
  • Deeds correcting or affirming a previously recorded deed;
  • Deeds involving title to cemetery lots;
  • Public trustee’s deeds and sheriff’s deeds;
  • Deeds granting or conveying a future interest in real estate; and,
  • Deeds transferring title due to the property owner’s death.50

How can a Colorado deed transfer property to or from a trust?

A conveyance of Colorado real estate to a living trust can be made to the trust itself or to the trustee in a representative capacity.51 A Colorado deed transferring property to a trustee must indicate that the trustee is acting as trustee to avoid erroneously granting title to the trustee individually.52

If a deed transfers title to a trustee or other representative, the deed must describe the representative capacity by:

  1. Identifying the represented person—such as the trust’s beneficiary—by name;
  2. Identifying the trust, statute, or court appointment under which the representative is acting; or
  3. Referring by book-and-page number to an affidavit of trust or similar document that describes the representative capacity and has been recorded in the county land records.53

If a trustee signs a deed in a representative capacity, the acknowledgment form for the trustee’s signature must also indicate the trustee’s representative capacity.54

When a deed conveys Colorado real estate to or from a trust in the trust’s own name, the trustee should record a statement of authority.55 A statement of authority serves as evidence of the trustee’s power to act on the trust’s behalf.

How can a Colorado deed transfer property from a corporation, LLC, or other business?

Colorado law instructs corporations to sign deeds through the corporation’s president, vice president, or other head officer.56 If a lower-ranking officer or employee executes a deed, the new owner accepting the deed or a title insurance company will likely require a statement of authority or corporate resolution authorizing execution by the signer.57

Additionally, corporations that own Colorado real estate must record a certificate of incorporation—or certificate of authority for out-of-state corporations—in each county where the corporation owns real estate.58

Limited liability companies typically execute deeds through one or more members or managers—depending on the company’s articles of organization and management model.59 As with a corporation, an LLC can record a statement of authority indicating that a signing employee or member has the power to act on the LLC’s behalf—avoiding confusion over authority and the need for further investigation by a title insurer.60

Does Colorado charge a transfer tax on real estate transfers?

Colorado charges a documentary fee on transfers of Colorado real estate. The transfer tax rate is $1 per $10,000 of consideration paid.

  1. C.R.S. § 38-30-113.
  2. C.R.S. § 38-30-113(1)(a).
  3. O’Brien v. Vill. Land Co., 794 P.2d 246 (Colo. 1990).
  4. C.R.S. § 38-30-113(1)(a).
  5. C.R.S. § 38-30-113(1)(b).
  6. C.R.S. § 38-30-113(1)(b).
  7. C.R.S. § 38-30-113(1)(d).
  8. Tuttle v. Burrows, 852 P.2d 1314, 1316 (Colo. App. 1992).
  9. C.R.S. § 38-30-113(1)(d).
  10. C.R.S. § 38-30-113(1)(c).
  11. Tuttle v. Burrows, 852 P.2d 1314, 1316 (Colo. App. 1992).
  12. C.R.S. §15-15-402(1).
  13. C.R.S. §15-15-404.
  14. C.R.S. §15-15-404(2).
  15. See C.R.S. § 38-31-102.
  16. C.R.S. §15-15-405.
  17. See, g., C.R.S. §15-11-405(1)(a).
  18. R.S. § 38-38-502.
  19. C.R.S. § 38-37-101.
  20. C.R.S. § 39-11-135.
  21. C.R.S. § 38-38-503.
  22. C.R.S. § 38-31-101(4).
  23. C.R.S. §15-15-402(1).
  24. C.R.S. § 38-31-101.
  25. C.R.S. § 38-31-102.
  26. C.R.S. § 38-31-102.
  27. C.R.S. § 38-31-101(1).
  28. C.R.S. § 38-31-101(4).
  29. C.R.S. § 38-31-101(6).
  30. C.R.S. § 38-31-201(3).
  31. C.R.S. § 38-30-108.5.
  32. See generally Colo. Uniform Trust Code, C.R.S. §§15-5-101, et. seq.
  33. C.R.S. § 38-31-101(4).
  34. C.R.S. § 38-31-201.
  35. C.R.S. § 38-35-118.
  36. C.R.S. § 38-41-202(3).
  37. C.R.S. § 38-41-202(4).
  38. C.R.S. §15-11-202.
  39. C.R.S. §15-11-213.
  40. C.R.S. § 38-35-109(1).
  41. C.R.S. § 38-35-109(1).
  42. C.R.S. § 30-10-408.
  43. C.R.S. § 38-35-106.
  44. C.R.S. § 39-14-102.
  45. C.R.S. § 39-14-102(1)(c).
  46. C.R.S. § 30-1-103(1).
  47. C.R.S. § 30-10-421(1).
  48. C.R.S. § 39-13-102(1).
  49. C.R.S. § 39-13-102(3); C.R.S. § 39-13-104(2).
  50. C.R.S. § 39-13-104(1)(a – o).
  51. C.R.S. § 38-30-108.5.
  52. See C.R.S. § 38-30-108(2).
  53. C.R.S. § 38-30-108(1).
  54. C.R.S. § 38-35-101(2).
  55. C.R.S. § 38-30-172(4).
  56. C.R.S. § 38-30-144(1).
  57. C.R.S. § 38-30-172(4).
  58. C.R.S. § 38-30-144(3).
  59. C.R.S. §7-80-405.
  60. C.R.S. § 38-30-172(4).