Michigan real estate is transferred by deed. A deed allows the current owner (grantor) to transfer real estate to a new owner (grantee). Depending on the parties, there may be multiple grantors or multiple grantees. Our software can create the following Michigan deed forms:
Three of these deeds forms are named after the type of warranty that they either do or don’t provide.
- Michigan Quit Claim Deed Form – Transfers property with no warranty;
- Michigan Covenant Deed Form – Transfers property with a limited warranty that only covers the period when the grantor owned the property; and
- Michigan Warranty Deed Form – Transfers property with a full warranty that covers all title defects, including those that arose before the grantor owned the property.
Two other types of Michigan deeds are not defined by the warranty, but by the probate avoidance feature associated with the deed.
- Life Estate Deed – Divides ownership into different time periods by giving one owner (the life tenant) a life estate to own the property during life while transferring all interests in the property another owner (remainder beneficiary) on the death of the life tenant.
- Michigan Lady Bird Deed – Uses the same structure as a life estate deed, but gives the life tenant broad retained powers over the property, including the ability to sell or mortgage the property or create a new deed leaving it to someone else.
Our Deed Generator can prepare each of these types of deeds, depending on the information provided in the interview.
Michigan Deed Requirements: Validity and Recording
MCL § 565.201 includes several requirements for Michigan deeds:
- The name of each signer must be legibly printed, typewritten, or stamped beneath the original signature or mark of the person;
- The name written on the deed must exactly match the name used in the notary acknowledgment;
- The name of the notary public must be legibly printed, typewritten, or stamped immediately below the notary’s signature;
- The deed must list the street address of each grantee named in the deed;
- The deed must include a margin of unprinted space that is at least 2.5 inches at the top of the first page and at least a half-inch on all remaining sides of each page;
- The first line of print should contain the name of the deed;
- The deed must be printed in 10-point font in black ink on letter-sized or legal-sized white paper that is not less than 20-pound weight.
Other sections of Michigan law impose other requirements, including:
- The deed must list the name and business address of the person that prepared the deed. MCL § 565.201a.
- The deed must be notarized. MCL § 565.8.
- The deed should include the grantor’s marital status. If a male grantor is married, Michigan law has historically required his wife to sign the deed to release her dower rights. MCL § 565.221. As discussed below, this requirement has changed recently.
- The deed must state the consideration or, if the deed lists only nominal consideration, an affidavit listing the actual consideration (a Real Estate Transfer Tax Valuation Affidavit) must accompany the deed. MCL § 207.504.
- If the deed is transferring unplatted land, it must include following statement: “This property may be located within the vicinity of farm land or a farm operation. Generally accepted agricultural and management practices which may generate noise, dust, odors, and other associated conditions may be used and are protected by the Michigan right to farm act.” MCL § 560.109.
- The deed must state the statutory basis for any exemption from real estate transfer tax.
In addition to these legal requirements, there are also customary best practices that apply to Michigan deeds. The deeds prepared by our Deed Generator were designed by attorneys with each requirement in mind.
Spousal Ownership of Michigan Real Estate
Because Michigan is a separate property state, one spouse does not automatically have an interest in property deeded to the other spouse during the marriage. If only one spouse is listed on the deed, the property belongs only to that spouse. But a spouse without ownership rights may nonetheless have dower rights in the property.
MCL § 565.221 has historically provided the wife of a married man with dower rights. These rights prevent a husband from conveying property without his wife’s consent. Dower rights were abolished in Michigan effective April 6, 2017, but there is a potential conflict between the repealed law and the Michigan Constitution. The real estate title industry has not had time to adjust to this recent change. To protect against title issues, the deeds created by our Deed Generator include a space for the grantor’s spouse to spouse sign the deed.
Forms of Co-Ownership of Michigan Real Estate
It is not uncommon for more than one owner to own the same parcel of real estate. In Michigan, there are three ways co-owners may hold title to a single piece of property:
- Tenancy in Common – Each owner has an undivided interest in the entire property that passes to that owner’s probate estate upon his or her death;
- Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship – Each owner has an undivided interest in the entire property that passes to the other owners upon his or her death; and
- Tenancy by the Entirety – A married couple is treated as a single unit and neither spouse can transfer the property without the other spouse’s consent.
Only a married couple can hold property as tenancy by the entirety. Because of the right of survivorship, only individuals (humans) can own property as joint tenancy with right of survivorship. Businesses and trusts have no lifetime, so joint tenancy with right of survivorship is not available to business or trust owners. Any type of owner can hold property as tenants in common.
How to Transfer Michigan Real Estate
The process for transferring Michigan real estate usually involves four steps:
- Find the most recent deed to the property. It is helpful to begin by locating the most recent deed to the property (the deed that transferred the property to the current grantor). You will need information from the prior deed to prepare the new deed. This information includes the exact wording of the owner’s name and the legal description for the property.
- Create the new deed. Once you have the information from the prior deed, you can create the deed to transfer the property to the new owner or owners. Our Deed Generator creates customized, state-specific deeds using a simple interview to collect information about the transfer. Once the interview is submitted, the software creates a deed that matches the choices made in the interview.
- Sign and notarize the deed. To be valid, the grantor must sign the deed and a notary public or equivalent official must acknowledge the grantor’s signature. Unsigned deeds are invalid. Only the grantor must sign the deed; the grantee need not sign it.
- File the deed in the county land records. The deed should be filed in the land records of the county where the property is located soon after it is signed and notarized. Any recording fees or Michigan real estate transfer tax owed must be paid when the deed is filed.
These steps are explained in more detail in the instructions (Next Steps) that are included with each deed prepared by our Deed Generator.