What Is a North Dakota Quitclaim Deed Form?
A property owner transfers title to North Dakota real estate during the owner’s life using a signed, written deed.1 North Dakota law gives owners several options when selecting a deed. The appropriate deed for a transfer depends on the owner’s objectives and the level of warranty the owner wants to provide regarding the property’s title.
A North Dakota quitclaim deed transfers the signer’s interest in property with no warranty of title.2 A quitclaim deed passes to the new owner all of the current owner’s rights in the property as of the date of the deed.3 The current owner does not guarantee that he or she actually owns the property or that the property is free of liens or other adverse claims affecting the title. The new owner receives whatever interest (if any) the current owner can lawfully transfer and nothing more.
What Is Warranty of Title?
Warranty of title is a transferring owner’s guarantee that a deed conveys genuine ownership of real estate and that the property’s title is subject to no adverse claims not excluded in the deed. Warranty of title in North Dakota consists of one or more enforceable promises—or covenants of title—the current owner makes to the new owner.
An owner who signs a North Dakota deed with complete warranty of title promises the new owner that:
- The owner holds complete title to the property—unless the deed specifies a lesser interest.
- No undisclosed liens, mortgages, assessments, or other encumbrances affect the property.
- No third-party legal claims will disturb the new owner’s ownership of the property.
- The current owner will in the future sign any documents or take any reasonable actions needed to confirm the new owner’s title.
- The current owner will resolve any third-party legal claims on the property.4
Warranty of title protects the new owner against unknown problems with the property’s title. An owner who promises that a property is free of liens, for example, must cover the cost of removing any liens— regardless of whether the owner was aware of the lien when signing the deed.5 The new owner can sue the prior owner for breach of warranty if the prior owner fails to resolve a title problem covered by the warranty.
Warranty of Title and North Dakota Quitclaim Deeds
A North Dakota quitclaim deed provides no warranty of title, so the new owner bears all risk of issues with the property’s title. The new owner receives whatever interest the current owner holds but cannot sue for breach of warranty if a title problem arises.
A quitclaim deed does not imply that there actually are problems with the property’s title. The deed takes no position about whether the current owner holds good title. A transfer via a quitclaim deed alone does not blemish a North Dakota property’s chain of title.6
Other Names for a North Dakota Quitclaim Deed Form
The name most commonly used nationwide for deeds with no warranty of title is quitclaim deed—which may also be written as quit claim deed or quit-claim deed.7 Some other states use synonyms for quitclaim deed that are relatively uncommon in North Dakota.
- Release deed. A release deed is typically a deed under which the signer releases or relinquishes his or her interest—such as when a co-owner gives a partial interest to the other co-owner.8
- Quitclaim deed without covenants. Lawyers use the name quitclaim deed without covenants to distinguish deeds with no covenants of title in the small number of states that imply covenants in ordinary quitclaim deeds.9
- No-warranty deed. Laws in a few states make title companies suspicious of deeds titled Quitclaim Deed. A no-warranty deed or deed without warranty can accomplish the same objective as a quitclaim deed in those states.10
How Do North Dakota Quitclaim Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?
The legal theory behind a North Dakota quitclaim deed is that it transfers the signer’s interest in the property—rather than the property itself like other deeds.11 The biggest practical difference between quitclaim deeds and North Dakota’s other types of deeds is that quitclaim deeds do not guarantee a good, clear title. The new owner therefore bears all risk of title problems.
A property owner who wishes to retain some or all risk of title problems can opt for either of the two types of North Dakota deeds with covenants of title.
North Dakota Quitclaim Deed vs. General Warranty Deed
A North Dakota general warranty deed form—or just a warranty deed—conveys property to the new owner with a comprehensive warranty of title.12 General warranty deeds include the five covenants of title listed above—keeping the risk of potential title problems with the current owner.13 The current owner is responsible for issues with the property’s title arising at any point in its chain of title—including before the current owner acquired the property.
North Dakota Quitclaim Deed vs. Special Warranty Deed
A North Dakota special warranty deed form transfers real estate with a partial warranty of title.14 The current owner guarantees a good, clear title, but the guarantee extends only to the time while the current owner owned the property. Any title issues derived from occurrences before the current owner took title are outside the limited warranty’s scope.
A North Dakota special warranty deed stating that the current owner “grants” the property to the new owner includes two implied covenants of warranty:
- The current owner has not transferred the real estate interest to any other person prior to signing the deed.
- The real estate is free from any liens, unpaid taxes, assessments, or other encumbrances derived from the current owner’s ownership of the real estate.15
North Dakota special warranty deeds can—and often do—include express covenants defining the warranty of title the current owner provides. The essential factor is that the warranty is limited to title problems that arose while the current owner held title.
Title Insurance and North Dakota Quitclaim Deeds
A property owner or other person with an interest in a North Dakota property’s title can protect against title problems by purchasing a title insurance policy. A title insurance company—when issuing a title policy—agrees to cover the insured person’s financial losses if a title problem arises.16 A title insurance policy insures against issues like:
- Tax liens and judgment liens;
- Unpaid assessments;
- Boundary disputes; and
- Chain-of-title defects resulting from a missing or invalid prior transfer.17
A property owner who acquires property under a quitclaim deed bears the risk of unknown title problems. A title insurance policy shifts to the insurance company the financial risk of defects that exist when the policy is issued and that are not specifically excluded from coverage.
Quitclaim Deeds and Other North Dakota Deeds Used in Estate Planning
North Dakota law recognizes other types of deeds that are characterized by the deed’s purpose—rather than by the warranty of title it provides. The estate-planning deeds below focus less on warranties or covenants and more on efficiently transferring property outside probate when the owner dies.
North Dakota Transfer-on-Death (TOD) Deed
A North Dakota transfer-on-death deed form—or TOD deed—allows for non-probate transfer to a named beneficiary without sacrificing the owner’s current property rights.18During life, the owner records a TOD deed that identifies one or more beneficiaries to take title at the owner’s death.19 The beneficiary receives no current property interest when the TOD deed is recorded.20 The owner therefore retains the right to sell, transfer, or borrow against the property without the beneficiary’s consent.21 When the owner dies, the beneficiary acquires the property with no warranty of title and subject to any recorded liens or title issues.22
North Dakota Life Estate Deed
A North Dakota life estate deed creates two interests in real estate. The life estate gives the holder (the life tenant) the right to the property for the rest of his or her life. The remainder gives another person the right to the property after the life tenant dies.23 A North Dakota life estate deed, unlike a TOD deed, can provide warranty of title. Thus, a life estate deed can also be a quitclaim deed, special warranty deed, or general warranty deed.
Life estate deeds created for estate plans typically reserve the life estate to the current property owner and grant the remainder to the owner’s children or other heirs. After recording the deed, the owner has the same rights as an owner who holds complete title—except that the owner must do nothing to restrict or harm the remainder interest.24 That means the owner can transfer only the life estate and cannot transfer complete title without the remainder holder’s consent.25
Common Uses of North Dakota Quitclaim Deed Forms
North Dakota quitclaim deeds are often appropriate when an owner or co-owners transfer real estate for no consideration or intend to modify how the property is titled without changing actual possession. Quitclaim deeds are well-suited to:
- Transferring title to the owner and another person to create a joint tenancy with right of survivorship.26
- Placing property in a living trust formed as part of the owner’s estate plan;27
- Transferring title from a trust to the trust’s beneficiary;28
- Transferring real estate to a business entity controlled by the property owner.29
- Conveying real estate co-owned by former spouses to one of the ex-spouses under the terms of a divorce decree.
How to Create a North Dakota Quitclaim Deed
Quitclaim deeds must satisfy all of North Dakota’s requirements for deeds and should leave no doubt that the deed transfers property with no covenants or warranty of title.
North Dakota Quitclaim Deed Requirements
North Dakota quitclaim deeds should be easily recognizable as quitclaim deeds with no warranty from the owner. They typically bear the title Quitclaim Deed at the top of a deed’s first page. The text of the deed states that the current owner “quitclaims” the real estate to the new owner.
Quitclaim deeds must avoid language that expressly states or suggests a warranty or covenants of title.30 A North Dakota quitclaim deed need not explicitly renounce covenants of title. However, a clear declaration that the deed conveys the property with no warranty avoids future disputes over the deed’s terms.
North Dakota General Deed Requirements
North Dakota law establishes formatting, content, and signing requirements that all deeds must meet. North Dakota’s statutory deed requirements include (without limitation):
- Formatting standards. A quitclaim deed must be printed on paper not larger than legal size (8½ × 14 inches) using a font not smaller than 10 points—with a 3-inch top margin on the deed’s first page.31
- Transfer details. A quitclaim deed must identify the parties and include the new owner’s address, a legal description of the property, and—in most cases—the county auditor’s certification of the property’s tax and assessment status.32
- Signing requirements. A quitclaim deed must have the transferring owner’s original, notarized signature.33 If a deed transfers a homestead property owned by a married person, both spouses must sign.34 The new owner must also sign to certify either the consideration provided for the deed or the exemption that makes the new owner’s certification of consideration unnecessary.35
Selecting a North Dakota Quitclaim Deed Form
Each state has its own real estate system with its own legal quirks. A North Dakota quitclaim deed form must be prepared for compliance with North Dakota’s system. A quitclaim deed form that works well in another state could be invalid or have unintended effects in North Dakota. A non-compliant deed may be rejected by the county recorder or result in title problems that make the property unmarketable until they are corrected.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 47-10-01.
- See Aure v. MacKoff, 93 N.W.2d 807 (N.D. 1958).
- N.D. Cent. Code § 47-10-13.
- N.D. Cent. Code §§ 47-10-03; 47-10-04.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 47-10-18.
- See N.D. Cent. Code § 47-10-15.
- See, e.g., Vig v. Swenson, 904 N.D. 489 (N.D. 2017).
- See, e.g., Henningsen v. Stromberg, 221 P.2d 438 (Mont. 1950).
- See, e.g., 33 Maine Rev. Stat. § 765, S.D. Cod. Laws § 43-25-11.
- See, e.g., Tex. Prop. Code § 5.023.
- Carkuff v. Balmer, 795 N.W.2d 303 (N.D. 2011).
- N.D. Cent. Code § 47-10-04.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 47-10-03.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 47-10-06.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 47-10-19.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 26.1-20-01.
- See, e.g., N.D. Cent. Code § 47-10-17.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 30.1-32.1-02.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 30.1-32.1-06.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 30.1-32.1-09(2).
- N.D. Cent. Code § 30.1-32.1-09(1).
- N.D. Cent. Code § 30.1-32.1-10(4).
- N.D. Cent. Code § 47-04-21.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 47-02-33.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 47-10-09.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 47-10-23.
- See N.D. Cent. Code § 47-19-42.1.
- See N.D. Cent. Code § 47-10-26.
- See, e.g., N.D. Cent. Code § 47-02-07 (describing interests in partnership-owned real estate).
- See N.D. Cent. Code §§ 47-10-03; 47-10-19.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 11-18-05(1)(a).
- N.D. Cent. Code §§ 47-10-07, 11-18-05(1)(a)(3); 11-18-02.
- N.D. Cent. Code §§ 47-10-01; 47-19-03.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 47-18-05.
- N.D. Cent. Code § 11-18-02.2(1).