Massachusetts Release Deed Form

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What Is a Massachusetts Release Deed Form?

A Massachusetts release deed is a type of legal document used to transfer real estate ownership in Massachusetts. A release deed transfers (or releases) any interest the current owner (or grantor) may have in the property to the new owner (or grantee).1 The distinguishing feature of Massachusetts release deeds is that they provide no warranty or covenants of title to the new owner—which means the person who signs the release deed does not guarantee good, clear title to the property.

Massachusetts law provides statutory suggested language for release deeds.2

What Is Warranty of Title?

A warranty of title in Massachusetts refers to the guarantees and assurances provided by the grantor to the grantee regarding the status of the property’s title. A grantor who transfers Massachusetts real estate with a full warranty of title guarantees that the new owner will receive complete ownership of the property and that there are no liens, adverse claims, or other problems with the property’s title.3

A Massachusetts release deed offers no warranty of title. The grantor who signs a release deed makes no promises about whether there are or are not any issues with the property’s title.

Other Names for a Massachusetts Release Deed Form

Massachusetts law uses the term release deed for what most other states call a quitclaim deed. A Massachusetts deed with no warranty of title may also be called a deed of quitclaim and release.

Adding further to the potential for confusion, Massachusetts law uses the name quitclaim deed to refer to a deed that provides a limited warranty of title. Deeds with a limited warranty are called special warranty deeds in most states, and they are called limited warranty deeds or grant deeds in other states.

How Do Massachusetts Release Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?

In Massachusetts, there are several types of deeds used for transferring real estate. Each of the types of deeds offers the grantee a different level of protection. Along with release deeds, the main types of deeds used in Massachusetts are the quitclaim deed and the warranty deed.

  1. Massachusetts warranty deed. A Massachusetts warranty deed provides the most protection to the grantee. It guarantees good title to the property, free from any defects or encumbrances (regardless of when they originated). The grantor is responsible for defending the title against any lawful claims that may arise, even if they predate the grantor’s ownership.4
  2. Massachusetts quitclaim deed. A Massachusetts quitclaim deed offers a limited warranty of title. A grantor who signs a deed that transfers property “with quitclaim covenants” guarantees that he or she has done nothing to cause a problem with the property’s title.5 The grantor promises to defend the property’s title against third-party claims—but only if the claim is based on something that happened while the grantor held title.6 The grantor makes no guarantees related to previous owners.

A Massachusetts release deed differs from other types of Massachusetts deeds mainly based on the level of protection and guarantees provided by the grantor to the grantee. A warranty deed offers the most comprehensive protection, followed by a quitclaim deed, while a release deed provides the least protection. The protection provided to the grantee also increases the grantor’s potential liability. A grantor has no liability under a release deed, has more potential liability under a quitclaim deed, and has the most potential liability under a warranty deed.

Massachusetts Title Insurance and Release Deeds

Title insurance is a type of indemnity insurance that protects property owners and mortgage lenders from financial loss due to title defects, liens, or encumbrances on the property. When a property is purchased using a Massachusetts release deed, the seller provides the buyer no protection against title problems. Title insurance can make up for the release deed’s lack of protection by covering potential financial loss from title problems. If there ends up being a problem with the property’s title, the title insurance company will correct the problem or compensate the new property owner for the financial loss that the title issue causes.

Massachusetts Release Deed Forms and Other Massachusetts Deeds Used in Estate Planning

Estate planning involves the transfer of assets, including real estate, to designated beneficiaries upon the owner’s death, ideally in a way that avoids probate. The primary estate planning deed in Massachusetts is a life estate deed. A life estate deed allows a property owner to transfer ownership to a designated beneficiary (remainderman) upon the owner’s death. The owner retains a life estate—an ownership interest that lets the owner use and occupy the property for life.7 When the owner dies, the property is automatically transferred to the beneficiary named in the life estate deed without the need for probate.

A Massachusetts property owner can also avoid probate using a deed that transfers property to a living trust.

Massachusetts Transfer-on-Death Deeds

In states that recognize them, transfer-on-death (TOD) deeds are revocable deeds that allow the property owner to designate one or more beneficiaries who will receive the property upon the owner’s death without going through probate. The owner retains full control over the property during their lifetime and can change or revoke the beneficiaries at any time. Massachusetts has not adopted a transfer-on-death deed act, so transfer-on-death deeds are not used in Massachusetts.

Common Uses of Massachusetts Release Deed Forms

Release deeds are often used when transferring real estate between family members or in other private transactions involving no consideration given for the property. They are popular in this context because they place no risk on the transferor, who usually transfers the property as a gift.

How to Create a Massachusetts Release Deed

As with any deed, a Massachusetts release deed should be customized to reflect the specific terms and conditions of the transaction. Reliance on fill-in-the-blank forms can lead to invalid documents and future title issues.

A Massachusetts release deed must meet Massachusetts deed recording requirements and include all necessary information such as the grantor’s and grantee’s names and addresses, the legal description of the property, and a statement of consideration. A release deed must also omit any language that would result in an express or implied warranty. Release deeds state that the grantor releases the property to the grantee, and they typically disclaim any warranty or covenants of title.8

The grantor must sign the release deed in the presence of a notary public. The notary public will verify the identity of the grantor, witness their signature, and affix their notarial seal to the deed. After the deed has been signed and notarized, it should be recorded with the registry of deeds in the county where the property is located. Recording the deed provides constructive notice of the transaction and helps protect the grantee’s interests in the property.

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  1. MA Gen L ch 183 § 2.
  2. MA Gen L ch 183, App (Statutory Form 4).
  3. Dalessio v. Baggia, 783 N.E.2d 890 (Mass. App. Ct. 2003).
  4. MA Gen L ch 183 § 10.
  5. MA Gen L ch 183 § 17.
  6. MA Gen L ch 183 § 11.
  7. MA Gen L ch 184 § 5.
  8. MA Gen L ch 183, Appendix (Statutory Form 4).