What Is a Nebraska Warranty Deed Form?
A written document that transfers title to Nebraska real estate from its current owner (the grantor) to a new owner (the grantee) is called a deed.1 A warranty deed is a specific deed form—recognized by Nebraska law—that provides warranty of title to the new owner. A property owner who transfers property under a warranty deed promises the new owner that no title defects cloud the property’s title—“no matter how, when, or by whom they may arise.”2
Title defects are problems with a property’s title that decrease the property’s value or marketability. Title defects affecting real estate could include an unpaid lien or mortgage, an unclear chain of title, or a third-party claim to own the property.3
How Warranty of Title Works in Nebraska
Warranty of title in Nebraska traditionally consists of five related promises—or covenants—from the current owner to the new owner:4
- Covenant of seisin. The current owner holds good title to the real estate identified in the deed.5
- Covenant of right to convey. The owner has the legal power to transfer the real estate.
- Covenant against encumbrances. No undisclosed liens or other title defects affect the property’s title.
- Covenant of quiet enjoyment. The new owner will have the right to own and use the real estate without interruption.
- Covenant of warranty. The current owner guarantees the transferred title and will defend it against any lawful claims by third parties.
The five covenants of warranty together make up the current owner’s guarantee of a clear title from the date the property was built through the date of the deed.
How Warranty of Title Protects the New Owner
Warranty of title is basically a contract between the person signing the deed and the new owner. The new owner is protected because if a title defect emerges, the former owner has a legal duty to defend the property’s title. The new owner can sue the former owner for breach of warranty if a title defect causes the new owner financial loss. The new owner can look to the former owner for payment if—for example—another person makes a superior claim on the property’s title and takes it from the new owner.6
Other Names for a Nebraska Warranty Deed Form
Nebraska courts usually call a deed that provides complete warranty of title a warranty deed.7 Nebraska courts and laws also use the more descriptive term general warranty deed.8 A warranty deed and a general warranty deed are the same, but the longer term shows how they differ from special warranty deeds.
Lawyers in some states use statutory warranty deed as another name for general warranty deed—particularly in states with a law suggesting warranty deed language.9 Nebraska does not have a statute expressly authorizing warranty deeds, so statutory warranty deed is not a good term in Nebraska.
How Do Nebraska Warranty Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?
A Nebraska warranty deed places the risk of unknown title defects squarely on the current owner who signs the deed. Two other deed forms commonly used in Nebraska—quitclaim deeds and special warranty deeds—assign the risk differently.
- Nebraska quitclaim deed. A Nebraska quitclaim deed form transfers the real estate and all risk of title defects to the new owner. The new owner receives any property interest the current owner can legally transfer.10 The current owner offers no warranty and does not promise that the deed transfers good title or any title at all.
- Nebraska special warranty deed. A Nebraska special warranty deed form transfers real estate with limited warranty of title. The current owner promises the new owner a good, defect-free title. Still, the promise only covers defects due to events that happened while the current owner owned the property.11 The warranty does not cover defects from earlier in the property’s chain of title. A general warranty deed, though, guarantees there are no defects throughout the property’s entire history, up to the date of the deed.
Nebraska Warranty Deeds and Other Nebraska Deed Forms
Nebraska law accepts several other deed forms for transferring title to real estate. The following are often part of estate planning:
- Nebraska transfer-on-death deed. A Nebraska transfer-on-death deed form is often called a TOD deed or beneficiary deed. This deed transfers real estate to a named beneficiary when the current owner dies.12 A property owner can record a TOD deed during life without giving away any rights to the property. When the owner dies, the property transfers to the beneficiary without probate.
- Nebraska life estate deed. A Nebraska life estate deed creates two separate sets of rights to the same real estate. The life estate gives the holder the right to the property for the rest of his or her life. The future interest—or remainder interest—gives another person the real estate after the life-estate holder’s death.13 Life estate deeds have become less popular since Nebraska began using TOD deeds. This is because a life estate deed limits the current owner’s property rights—such as the right to sell or mortgage the property—but a TOD deed does not.
Common Uses of Nebraska Warranty Deed Forms
The ideal use for a Nebraska warranty deed form is to transfer real estate to a buyer who acquires the property for fair market value. Buyers of single-family homes, in particular, often take title through a warranty deed. Mortgage lenders may also require a general warranty deed before financing a real estate purchase.
The advantage of a warranty deed is that it offers a way for a new owner to get their money back if the deed transfers a flawed title. A buyer who takes title through a quitclaim deed—on the other hand—cannot sue for breach of warranty if the deed does not transfer a valid title.
Title insurance provides extra protection against title defects and may also be required to get a mortgage loan. A title insurance policy is a contract under which the insurer agrees to bear the financial risk of title defects.14 The policyholder pays a one-time premium, and the insurer promises to cover any loss the insured person suffers due to unknown defects.
How to Create a Nebraska Warranty Deed
Nebraska Warranty Deed Requirements
Nebraska does not specifically allow warranty deeds, and there is no sample language for warranty deeds in the law. A person creating a Nebraska warranty deed must add the covenants of warranty directly into the deed.15
Nebraska warranty deeds typically state that the current owner grants and warrants the property to the new owner. The current owner promises that he or she holds good title, has a right to transfer the property, and warrants and will defend the transferred ownership against lawful claims. The current owner guarantees that no liens or other problems affect the title other than those specifically named in the deed.
The parties to a warranty deed are free to change what the warranty covers through clear language in the deed. Nebraska warranty deeds often leave out—for example—covenants, easements, assessments, and similar items that are already in the county land records when the deed is signed.
Nebraska General Deed Requirements
A Nebraska warranty deed must meet any Nebraska deed requirements that apply to all Nebraska deeds. Nebraska has legal standards for formatting.16 Nebraska deeds must include information needed for indexing—for example, a property description and party names—along with a document title and return address.17 An adult property owner must sign a Nebraska deed before a notary.18
Other requirements depend on the details of the deal. These are some examples of details a deed might include:
- More than one current owner. Both owners must sign a deed to transfer co-owned property.
- Homestead. Both spouses must sign a deed to transfer a Nebraska homestead owned by a married owner even if only one spouse’s name is on the title.19
- Property owned by a trust or business entity. The trustee signs a deed transferring real estate owned by a living trust. A corporate officer or LLC member signs a deed transferring real estate owned by a corporation or LLC.
- More than one new owner. A deed transferring Nebraska real estate to two or more new owners should state whether the new owners will hold title as tenants in common or as joint tenants with right of survivorship.20
Selecting a Nebraska Warranty Deed Form
Every state has its own real estate laws, and the requirements for a valid deed change from state to state. A deed form used in Nebraska must fit Nebraska law. Another state’s form may not work for recording in Nebraska or may fail to legally transfer Nebraska real estate.
Nebraska warranty deeds require extra-close attention because a deed’s warranty language can have major legal consequences. Unclear warranty language can result in a cloud on the property’s title or make a party accept greater-than-intended risk and even financial loss.
- Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-203.
- Morello v. Land Reutilization Comm., 659 N.W.2d 310, 314 (Neb. 2003).
- See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 44-1981(20).
- See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-208.
- See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-206.
- See Grand Island Hotel Corp. v. Second Island Development Co., 214 N.W.2d 253 (Neb. 1974).
- See Bulger v. McCourt, 138 N.W.2d 18 (Neb. 1965).
- See, e.g., Morello v. Land Reutilization Comm., 659 N.W.2d 310, 314 (Neb. 2003); Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-307.
- See, e.g., Chaney v. Haeder, 752 P.2d 854 (Or. Ct. App., 1988).
- Gustafson v. Gustafson, 476 N.W.2d 819 (Neb. 1991).
- See Morello v. Land Reutilization Comm., 659 N.W.2d 310 (Neb. 2003).
- Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-3405.
- Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-107.
- Neb. Rev. Stat. § 44-1981(20).
- See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-208.
- See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1503.01(3) (establishing paper, print, and margin specifications).
- See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1508; Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1509; Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1510.
- Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-211.
- Neb. Rev. Stat. § 40-104.
- See Neb. Rev. Stat. § 76-275.07.