What Is a Maine Quitclaim Deed without Covenant Form?
Maine law recognizes several types of deeds for transferring real estate.1 A Maine quitclaim deed without covenant is a type of deed that transfers all of the signer’s rights in Maine real estate with no warranty of title.2 The new owner receives the entire interest the transferor can legally transfer.3 The transferor signing the deed—called the grantor—does not guarantee good, clear title or that the deed will actually transfer an interest in the property.
Most states use the shorter name quitclaim deed for deeds that transfer real estate with no guarantee about the property’s title. A Maine quitclaim deed—or quitclaim deed with covenant—includes an implied partial warranty.4 A Maine property owner must use a quitclaim deed without covenant to ensure that a deed completely omits covenants or warranty of title.
What Is Warranty of Title?
Warranty of title is a guarantee that a transferred property’s title is valid and free of liens and other title problems. The guarantee consists of one or more legal promises—called covenants of title or warranty covenants—given by the property owner signing the deed. A Maine deed transferring property with complete warranty of title includes four covenants from the current owner:
- Covenant of seisin. The current owner holds complete legal title to the property.
- Covenant against encumbrances. The property’s title is not subject to undisclosed liens, mortgages, assessments, outstanding property tax, or other encumbrances.
- Covenant of right to convey. The current owner has the right to transfer the property to the new owner.
- Covenant of warranty. The current owner will accept responsibility for any problems with the property’s title and defend the title against any third-party claims.5
A deed with warranty of title protects the new owner against unknown problems with the property’s title. The new owner has the right to sue the prior owner to recover any financial loss caused by a breach of covenants of title included in the deed.6
Warranty of Title and Maine Quitclaim Deed without Covenant Forms
A Maine quitclaim deed without covenant passes to the new owner—with no covenants or warranty of title—whatever interest the person signing the deed (the grantor) has the power to transfer.7 If the grantor holds good, clear title, the new owner receives good, clear title. If the grantor does not actually own the property, the transferee receives nothing. The new owner takes the title as is.
A quitclaim deed without covenant is sufficient to transfer whatever interest in real estate the current owner could transfer with another deed form.8 The new owner just receives no assurance that the transferred interest is valid.
Other Names for a Maine Quitclaim Deed without Covenant Form
Most states call a deed transferring property with no warranty of title a quitclaim deed. Maine uses the longer name quitclaim deed without covenant because, under Maine law, a quitclaim deed provides an implied limited warranty.9 Maine and a few other states also use the name release deed or deed of release as an alternate name for a deed with no covenants of warranty.10
A bargain-and-sale deed—in states where they are recognized—usually transfers property with no warranty of title similarly to a Maine quitclaim deed without covenant.11 Depending on the state, bargain-and-sale deeds may imply a covenant that the transferor holds valid title or may transfer interests acquired after the deed.12 Bargain-and-sale deeds are not common in Maine.
Lawyers and title insurers avoid the word quitclaim in a few states—including Texas. The names no-warranty deed and deed without warranty are used in states that disfavor quitclaim for deeds that function like a Maine quitclaim deed without covenant.
How Do Maine Quitclaim Deed without Covenant Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?
A quitclaim deed without covenant, by definition, has no express warranty or language giving rise to implied covenants of title.13 The new owner bears all risk of problems with the property’s title and cannot sue for breach of warranty if title problems arise.
Maine law recognizes other deed forms that provide complete or limited warranty of title—reducing the new owner’s share of the title-related risk.
Maine Warranty Deed Form
A Maine warranty deed form transfers property with the most complete warranty of title available in Maine.14 A property owner who signs a deed transferring real estate with warranty covenants guarantees good, clear title—subject to no undisclosed liens, mortgages, assessments, or other encumbrances.15 The current owner promises that if a title problem arises that is not expressly excluded from the warranty, he or she will take responsibility for addressing the problem.
A warranty deed places all risk of title problems on the current owner. The warranty is not limited based on the date a problem arose. The new owner can sue for breach of warranty to recover financial loss caused by title problems that occurred at any point in the property’s history.
Maine Quitclaim Deed with Covenant Form
A Maine quitclaim deed with covenant—or just Maine quitclaim deed—transfers property with a partial warranty of title.16 A Maine deed with a quitclaim covenant or limited covenant is Maine’s version of what most states call a special warranty deed or limited warranty deed. The current owner guarantees a good title, but the guarantee covers only title problems that arose while the current owner owned the property.17 Problems rooted earlier in the property’s chain of title are outside the limited warranty’s scope.
The current owner and new owner share the risk of title problems under a Maine quitclaim deed with covenant. A problem that arose while the current owner held title is the current owner’s responsibility. Any other issues with the property’s title are the new owner’s responsibility.
Title Insurance and Maine Quitclaim Deeds without Covenant
Maine real estate owners can purchase title insurance to reduce the risk of financial loss caused by problems with a property’s title. An insurance company that issues a title policy promises that if a covered issue arises, the insurer will compensate the insured person for any resulting loss.18
Title insurance—which typically requires a lump-sum premium payment when a policy is issued—protects against financial loss from problems like:
- Outstanding liens, mortgages, or assessments;
- Uncertainty in a property’s chain of title that makes it less marketable;
- Boundary disputes; and
- Adverse claims of superior title to the property.
An owner who takes title to Maine real estate through a quitclaim deed without covenant assumes all title-related risk. Purchasing title insurance can be a good way to avoid exposure to significant financial loss if an unknown title problem arises. Title insurers also require a professional title examination before issuing a policy—which increases the likelihood that title problems are discovered before closing.
Quitclaim Deed without Covenant and Other Maine Deeds Used in Estate Planning
A Maine quitclaim deed without covenant passes an interest in real estate to a new owner while the current owner is still living. The estate-planning deeds Maine recognizes—transfer-on-death deeds and life estate deeds—let owners arrange for transfer of property outside probate when the owner dies.
A Maine transfer-on-death deed—or TOD deed—transfers title to one or more beneficiaries named in the deed effective at the owner’s death.19 A TOD deed must be recorded while the owner is living but has no effect on the owner’s rights during life.20 When the owner dies, the beneficiary automatically takes title with no need for probate.21
A Maine life estate deed grants one person—the life tenant—the right to a property for the rest of his or her life.22 Another person—the remainder beneficiary or remainderman—receives the right to future ownership of the property when the life tenant dies. The remainderman takes title without probate at the life tenant’s death. Owners creating life estate deeds for estate plans typically keep the life estate and give the remainder to the owner’s child or other family member.
Two essential factors distinguish Maine TOD deeds from life estate deeds:
- Owner’s rights after recording the deed. A life tenant who records a life estate deed can transfer only the life estate—and not complete title to the property—unless the remainderman consents to the transfer.23 An owner who records a TOD deed retains the right to revoke or amend the TOD deed or to sell the property without the beneficiary’s consent.24
- Warranty of title. A life estate deed can—but does not have to—transfer property with covenants of title. A Maine life estate deed can also be a warranty deed, quitclaim deed with covenant, or quitclaim deed without covenant. A Maine TOD deed cannot convey property with covenants of title—even if the written deed includes warranty language.25
Common Uses of Maine Quitclaim Deed without Covenant Forms
A Maine property owner typically uses a quitclaim deed without covenant when transferring property for no consideration or when changing how property is titled without giving up physical possession. A quitclaim deed without covenant could be suitable for any of the following goals:
- Create a joint tenancy. A quitclaim deed without covenant can create a joint tenancy with right of survivorship by changing the joint owners’ co-ownership form or by adding a second owner’s name to a property’s title.26
- Transfer title to a trust. A quitclaim deed without covenant can transfer title to a living trust formed in connection with the owner’s estate plan.27
- Divide property in a divorce. A quitclaim deed without covenant can transfer marital property from former spouses to one spouse under a divorce decree.28
- Gift. A quitclaim deed without covenant can transfer real estate to a family member as a gift without consideration.
How to Create a Maine Quitclaim Deed without Covenant
A Maine quitclaim deed without covenant must satisfy Maine’s legal requirements for deeds generally and must omit language suggesting any covenants of title.
Maine Quitclaim Deed without Covenant Requirements
The Maine Revised Statutes include a statutory template for quitclaim deeds without covenant.29 The simple form identifies the parties and property and states that the current owner “releases” all rights in the property to the new owner. The statutory language is not mandatory.30 A quitclaim deed without covenant can modify the wording or include additional terms agreed by the parties—provided Maine law allows the terms.
Quitclaim deeds without covenant should avoid phrases that expressly adopt covenants of title or that result in implied covenants. The phrases “warranty covenants,” “quitclaim covenant,” and “limited covenant” result in implied covenants under Maine law.31
Maine General Deed Requirements
All deeds recorded in Maine must satisfy certain requirements adopted by Maine’s legislature. Maine’s general deed requirements govern formatting, necessary information, and signing. They include, for example:
- Page size. Maine deeds typically use 8½ × 11-inch (letter-size) paper, and the paper cannot exceed 8½ × 14 inches (legal size).32
- Current and new owner information. A deed must include identifying information (i.e., name and mailing address) for the current owner signing the deed (the grantor) and the new owner receiving the property (the grantee).33
- Property description. A valid legal description of the transferred property must appear within a deed.34
- Notarized signature. A Maine deed must have the current owner’s notarized signature.35
Selecting a Maine Quitclaim Deed without Covenant Form
Real estate rules are mostly determined at the state level, and different states’ rules can vary significantly. A deed needs to satisfy the rules of the state where the property is located. A Maine quitclaim deed without covenant form must comply with Maine law and accurately reflect the parties’ intended transfer terms. A deed form prepared for another state may be ineffective, ineligible for recording, or have unintended legal implications if used in Maine.
- See 33 M.R.S. § 775.
- 33 M.R.S. § 775(4).
- 33 M.R.S. § 771.
- See 33 M.R.S. § 765.
- 33 M.R.S. § 763.
- See McCormick v. Crane, 37 A.3d. 295 (Me. 2012).
- 33 M.R.S. § 161.
- 33 M.R.S. § 161.
- 33 M.R.S. § 765.
- See 33 M.R.S. §§ 161; 775(4).
- See Sargent v. Coolidge, 399 A.2d 1333 (Me. 1979).
- See, e.g., Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-30-113(1)(c), Oreg. Rev. Stat. § 93.860(2)(b).
- See 33 M.R.S. § 775(4).
- 33 M.R.S. § 775(1).
- 33 M.R.S. § 763.
- 33 M.R.S. § 775(2).
- 33 M.R.S. § 766.
- 24-A M.R.S. § 709.
- 18-C M.R.S. § 6-405.
- 18-C M.R.S. § 6-409(3); 6-412.
- 18-C M.R.S. § 6-407.
- See 33 M.R.S. § 158.
- 33 M.R.S. § 157.
- 18-C M.R.S. §§ 6-406; 6-412.
- 18-C M.R.S. § 6-413(4).
- 33 M.R.S. § 159.
- See 33 M.R.S § 851.
- See 36 M.R.S. § 4641-C(4).
- 33 M.R.S. § 775(4).
- 33 M.R.S. § 761.
- See 33 M.R.S. §§ 763; 766.
- 33 M.R.S. § 651.
- 36 M.R.S. § 653; 33 M.R.S. § 456.
- 33 M.R.S. § 651.
- 33 M.R.S. §§ 161; 201.