Florida real estate is transferred by a document called a deed. By signing a deed, the current owner (grantor) transfer property to the new owner (grantee). There are several common Florida deed forms:
Three of these deed forms are defined by the warranty of title they provide or don’t provide.
- Florida Warranty Deed Form – A Florida warranty deed form transfers property with a full warranty of title that covers all prior title defects, including those that arose before the current grantor acquired the property.
- Florida Special Warranty Deed Form – A Florida special warranty deed form provides a limited warranty that only covers the period when the current grantor owned the property.
- Florida Quitclaim Deed Form – A Florida quitclaim deed form provides no warranty of title.
Florida also recognizes two types of deeds that are used to avoid probate of Florida real estate.
- Life Estate Deed – A life estate deed divides ownership between the current grantor, who will hold the property as a life tenant during his or her life, and the future owners, who will inherit the property as remainder beneficiaries when the current owner dies.
- Florida Lady Bird Deed – A Florida lady bird deed is a special form of life estate deed that allows the grantor to keep broad rights over the property, including the right to change his or her mind without involving the remainder beneficiaries.
Our Deed Generator can create any of these types of Florida deeds based on the answers provided in the interview.
Florida Deed Requirements: Validity and Recording
For a Florida deed to effectively transfer real estate, it must satisfy both validity and recording requirements. Fla. Stat. § 689.01 lists three basic requirements for the validity of a Florida deed:
- The deed must be in writing;
- The deed must be signed by the transferor (the current owner) of the property or his or her duly authorized agent or representative;
- The deed must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, each of whom must also sign the deed.
Fla. Stat. § 689.02 requires a space for the parcel identification number for warranty deeds. This requirement has been extended to other forms of deeds and the parcel identification number is often filled in prior to filing. Although the space for parcel identification number is a requirement, an incorrect parcel identification number will not invalidate the deed. Florida law specifies that a parcel identification number is not a legal description and may not be used as a substitute for the legal description of the property being conveyed.
These are basic requirements. In practice, these requirements only lay a foundation for how deeds are actually prepared. The specifics of the deed—such as the type of warranty—depend a great deal on the language included in the deed. For example, a Florida quitclaim deed form will use language that differs from a Florida warranty deed or special warranty deed form. Similarly, a Florida lady bird deed form will use different language than a deed that is intended to immediately transfer the property.
Florida’s recording requirements are listed in Fla. Stat. § 695.26:
- The deed must include a “Prepared by” section that states the name and address of the “natural person” (i.e., human, not an organization) that prepares the deed.
- The deed must contain the names and mailing address of the current owners of the property (grantors) and the new owners of the property (grantees).
- The deed must be signed by each current owner (grantor) and witness.
- The deed must be properly notarized, with all of the correct information filled in.
The deed must also leave a three-inch square white space on the top right-hand corner of the first page of each document and a one-inch by three-inch square white space on the top right-hand corner of each subsequent page of the document.
Spousal Ownership of Florida Real Estate
Florida is a separate property state, which means that property titled in only one spouse’s name belongs to that spouse alone. His or her spouse does not have an ownership interest in the property merely because it was acquired during marriage.
Special rules apply to property that is used as a married couple’s marital home that is classified as homestead property. These rules prevent one spouse from transferring the marital home without the consent of the other spouse. They apply even if the spouse does not own the property. In other words, a spouse may have homestead rights in property that he or she does not legally own. Even if only one spouse owns the homestead, the other spouse must join in the transfer for the deed to be valid.
Forms of Co-Ownership of Florida Real Estate
More than one person may own a single parcel of Florida real estate. Florida law recognizes three primary ways that multiple owners can hold title to real estate:
- Tenancy in Common – Each owner has an undivided interest in the property. On the death of one owner, his or her interest passes to his or her probate estate.
- Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship – On the death of an owner, his or her interest passes to the surviving owners.
- Tenancy by the Entirety – A form of ownership for married couples that provides a right of survivorship and increased creditor protection.
Any type of owner can hold property as tenancy in common, but the other two forms of ownership have special requirements. For a joint tenancy with right of survivorship, each owner must be an individual (human). Because only individuals can be “survived,” the right of survivorship does not apply to property held by businesses or trusts. Tenancy by the entirety is available only when property is owned by a married couple.
How to Transfer Florida Real Estate
Four steps are required to transfer Florida real estate:
- Find the prior deed to the property. To create a new deed to real estate, you will need information from the most recent deed to the property (the deed that transferred the property to the current grantor). This information includes the legal description and the exact name of the current grantor as it is stated on the prior deed.
- Prepare a new deed transferring the property to the new Our Deed Generator uses an interview to collect information about the transfer, then creates a deed that matches the choices made in the interview. It allows you to create a customized, state-specific deed in minutes.
- Sign and notarize the deed. For a deed to be valid, it must be signed by both the grantor and two witnesses. The grantor’s signature must also be notarized. If the grantor’s spouse has any homestead rights, the grantor’s spouse may also need to sign the deed. Our Deed Generator will determine whether the spouse must sign the deed based on the answers you provide.
- File the deed with the county clerk. The signed, notarized, original deed should be filed in the land records of the clerk of the county where the property is located. Any recording fees or documentary stamp taxes must be paid when the deed is filed.
Each step is explained in more detail in the customized instructions (Next Steps) that come with each deed created by our Deed Generator.