Missouri Warranty Deed Form

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What is a Missouri Warranty Deed Form?

A Missouri warranty deed form transfers Missouri real estate from the current owner making the transfer (the grantor or transferor) to the new owner (the grantee) with a full warranty of title. The warranty guarantees the new owner a good, clear title to the property. The current owner agrees to be legally responsible for any title issues that are discovered. A warranty deed’s guarantee covers the property’s entire ownership history—including the period before the current owner acquired the property.

How Warranty of Title Works in Missouri

A warranty of title is a guarantee that a deed will transfer valid, undisputed ownership of the property. The warranty of title that a Missouri warranty deed provides gives the new owner the most protection of Missouri’s deed forms. Conversely, a warranty deed places the most risk on the grantor.

The complete warranty of title included in a warranty deed consists of six legal promises (called covenants of title) from the current owner making the transfer to the new owner receiving the property:1

  • Covenant of seisin. The transferor had complete title when signing the deed.
  • Covenant of right to convey. The transferor has the legal authority to transfer title to the new owner.
  • Covenant against encumbrances. There were no liens, assessments, taxes, or other third-party interests (encumbrances) on the property’s title.
  • Covenant of quiet enjoyment. No third-party claims will disturb the new owner’s ownership of the property.
  • Covenant of warranty. The transferor agrees to be legally responsible for any title issues that emerge and will defend the title against third-party claims.
  • Covenant of further assurance. The transferor will take actions or sign documents needed to further assure the new owner’s ownership of the property.

How Warranty of Title Protects the New Owner

A warranty of title protects the new owner from financial damage caused by a title problem by placing legal responsibility for title issues with the transferor. For example, if the new owner discovers an undisclosed lien or unpaid assessment, the transferor must cover the cost of clearing the property’s title. The new owner can sue the transferor for breach of warranty if the transferor fails to fix a title problem.2

Title issues can be caused by many things—including errors in the public record, unknown liens against the property, undisclosed prior transfers, forged deeds, missing heirs or unprobated wills, or disputes about boundary lines or surveys. Title issues often require legal action to fix and can make real estate less valuable or more difficult (or impossible) to sell.

If a property has no title issues, it is said to have clear title. A warranty of title is a legal guarantee that the transferee will receive a clear title.

Other Names for a Missouri Warranty Deed Form

A Missouri warranty deed form is sometimes called a general warranty deed. The word general clarifies that the deed’s warranty covers the property’s entire chain of title, and the deed is not a special warranty deed—which provides a more limited warranty of title.

Most states use the names warranty deed or general warranty deed for deeds that provide a complete warranty of title. A few states use alternate names—such as deed with full covenants in New York.

How Do Missouri Warranty Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?

The warranty of title provided by a Missouri warranty deed affords the new owner the greatest protection from title issues and places the most risk on the current owner. A transferor who signs a warranty deed is responsible for all title issues—even issues that the transferor does not know about and that arose before the transferor took title.

The complete warranty of title distinguishes a warranty deed from two other types of deeds used in Missouri that each provide less protection to the new owner.

Missouri Quitclaim Deed

A Missouri quitclaim deed form transfers whatever interest the transferor has (if any) with no warranty of title. The new owner accepts the property “as is” and has no right to sue the transferor for breach of warranty if the deed fails to deliver clear title to the property.3 A quitclaim deed places all risk of title problems on the new owner and no risk on the transferor.

Missouri Special Warranty Deed

A Missouri special warranty deed form transfers property with a warranty of title, but the warranty is limited to the period when the transferor owned the property.4 The transferor is legally responsible for any title issues that he or she caused or allowed, and the new owner is responsible for issues from before the transferor took title. A special warranty deed splits the risk between the parties—with each party bearing some risk depending on when a specific title issue arose.

Missouri Warranty Deeds and Other Missouri Deed Forms

The three deed forms discussed above are distinguished by, and named for, the warranty of title they provide (or do not provide). Other types of Missouri deeds are defined by and named for their probate avoidance features.

Missouri Beneficiary Deed

A Missouri beneficiary deed form is Missouri’s equivalent of what many states call a transfer-on-death (TOD) deed. A beneficiary deed allows the current owner to name one or more beneficiaries who will automatically receive ownership of the property upon the owner’s death.5 Beneficiary deeds have the advantage of both avoiding probate and allowing the owner to keep full control over the property during life.6 For the rest of his or her life, the owner can revoke or amend the beneficiary deed, record a new beneficiary deed, or sell the property without involving the beneficiary.

Missouri Life Estate Deed

A Missouri life estate deed form avoids probate by transferring to a new owner (the remainder beneficiary) the right to future ownership of the property after the current owner (the life tenant) dies. An owner creating a life estate deed for an estate plan typically keeps the lifetime ownership interest (or life estate) and gives the remainder interest to one or more family members.

The downside of a life estate deed is that the owner no longer has complete control over the property after creating the deed. A life tenant still has the right to possess and use the real estate, but he or she can sell, mortgage, or transfer the property only with the remainder beneficiary’s consent.

A life estate deed can be created with a full warranty of title. If that happens, the deed would be both a life estate deed and a warranty deed. Life estate deeds may also be quitclaim deeds or special warranty deeds.

Common Uses of Missouri Warranty Deed Forms

A Missouri warranty deed form places all of the risk of title problems on the transferor. The transferor is legally responsible for title problems he or she caused and for any title issues that a prior owner caused. Because of this broad liability, warranty deeds are usually used only in the context of a sale for fair value. An owner transferring title for nominal or no consideration typically uses a quitclaim deed or special warranty deed. Likewise, an owner who is retitling a property but will keep control—such as an owner transferring property to a living trust—does not ordinarily use a warranty deed.

Even when a transfer is made by warranty deed, the parties usually purchase a title insurance policy to shift the risk to the third-party insurance company. Title insurance protects a buyer’s investment in the property and shields a seller from potentially significant liability if a title issue is discovered.

How to Create a Missouri Warranty Deed Form

A Missouri warranty deed needs to include the right language in its vesting paragraph and warranty sections to ensure that the deed complies with Missouri law and provides the correct warranty. Missouri does not have a statutory short-form warranty deed. In practice, warranty deeds often use the words “grant, bargain, and sell” to incorporate limited implied covenants of title and an express warranty clause that explains the scope of the deed’s warranty and the transferor’s obligations.7

A Missouri warranty deed must also meet the deed-recording requirements that apply to all Missouri deeds. Among other things, a Missouri deed must be properly formatted and include:

  • The current owner’s name and marital status;
  • The new owner’s name and address;
  • A valid legal description of the property;
  • A granting clause transferring title to the new owner; and
  • The current owner’s notarized signature.8

Each state has its own real estate law and requirements for creating various types of deeds. A Missouri warranty deed form must be drafted specifically to comply with Missouri law. A deed that was created for another state or that relies on a generic form is unlikely to meet all Missouri requirements. It is important to use a well-drafted deed, as a carelessly prepared deed may be rejected by the recorder or fail to make a valid transfer.

Need a warranty deed that meets Missouri recording requirements?

Each deed produced by our deed creation software is attorney-designed to comply with Missouri law. Just complete a user-friendly interview and get a customized deed in minutes.

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  1. Hillman v. Hedgpeth, 600 S.W.2d 625 (Mo. Ct. App. 1980).
  2. A. C. Drinkwater v. Ellot H. Raffety, 495 S.W.2d 450 (Mo. Ct. App. 1973).
  3. R & R Land Dev., L.L.C. v. Am. Freightways, Inc., 389 S.W.3d 234 (Mo. Ct. App. 2013).
  4. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 442.420.
  5. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 461.001.
  6. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 461.031(1).
  7. See Mo. Rev. Stat. § 442.420; Hillman v. Hedgpeth, 600 S.W.2d 625 (Mo. Ct. App. 1980).
  8. See, e.g., Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 59.310; 442.130(2); 59.005(6); 59.330.2; Boatmen’s Nat. Bank v. Dandy, 804 S.W.2d 783 (Mo. Ct. App. 1990).