Oklahoma Warranty Deed Form

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What is an Oklahoma General Warranty Deed Form?

An Oklahoma general warranty deed is a written, signed instrument for legally transferring title to Oklahoma real estate.1 A general warranty deed—or just warranty deed in the Oklahoma statute—is distinct from other Oklahoma deed forms because it transfers real estate with complete warranty of title.2 Warranty of title is essentially a guaranty from the current owner—the grantor—to the new owner—the grantee—that the deed conveys valid title to real estate free from liens and other defects.3

How Does Warranty of Title Work in Oklahoma?

An Oklahoma warranty deed’s warranty of title consists of three implied covenants—or enforceable promises—from the current owner:4

  1. The current owner holds complete title to the property and has the power to convey the title to the new owner (the common law covenant of seisin and covenant of right to convey).
  2. The property’s title is free of undisclosed liens, mortgages, and other title defects (the common law covenant against encumbrances).
  3. The new owner will enjoy uninterrupted ownership of the property, and the current owner will defend the new owner’s title against any future adverse claims (the common law covenant of quiet enjoyment and covenant of warranty).5

Oklahoma law assumes that a general warranty deed encompasses these three covenants even if the covenants are not expressly written in the deed.6

The new owner receiving Oklahoma real estate through a general warranty deed can file a breach of warranty suit against the former owner who signed the deed if a title defect later emerges.7 Title defects might include unknown liens or mortgages, an incomplete or invalid title resulting from a past defective conveyance, or an adverse third-party claim caused by an ambiguous chain of title.8 If a deed altogether fails to convey valid title, the new owner can recover from the former owner the purchase price, the value of any lost improvements on the property, legal costs, and interest.9

The former owner who signed a general warranty deed also has a legal duty to defend the new owner’s title against adverse claims asserted by third parties.10 The new owner can sue the former owner for any amounts the new owner spends in defending the title if the former owner breaches the duty to defend.11

Other Names for an Oklahoma General Warranty Deed Form

Oklahoma statutes use the term warranty deed for a deed that conveys title to real estate guaranteed to be completely defect-free.12 Oklahoma courts and attorneys often use the more descriptive general warranty deed to avoid confusion with special warranty deeds—which provide a less comprehensive warranty.13

Some states use the term statutory warranty deed synonymously with general warranty deed—particularly when a deed uses statutory model language to incorporate a warranty.14 The Supreme Court of Oklahoma occasionally describes a warranty deed based on Oklahoma’s statutory model language as a statutory warranty deed—though the usage is mostly limited to older cases.15

How do Oklahoma General Warranty Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?

Oklahoma general warranty deeds’ defining characteristic is the certainty they provide to a property’s new owner. The current owner completely guarantees that the deed transfers a defect-free title and agrees to be legally responsible if title problems emerge.16 The current owner bears the financial risk of unknown title defects. The new owner can look to the current owner for compensation if a defect causes financial loss.17

Oklahoma recognizes two other deed forms that allocate title-defect risk differently—allowing the new owner to share or assume all risk of unknown issues with a property’s title.

Oklahoma Warranty Deed Form vs. Oklahoma Special Warranty Deed Form

An Oklahoma special warranty deed form provides all of the covenants associated with a general warranty deed—subject to an important limitation. The warranty does not cover title problems that arose before the current owner took title to the property.18 In other words, the current owner guarantees that nothing occurred to cloud the title while the current owner owned the real estate. The risk of title defects earlier in the property’s chain of title rests with the new owner.

Example. Owen records a special warranty deed conveying to Percival undivided title to real estate. One year later, Terry notifies Percival that Terry owns the oil and gas rights associated with the real estate. Terry presents Percival with a valid deed an earlier owner executed before Owen acquired title. Neither Owen nor Percival was aware of the oil and gas deed. Percival cannot pursue a breach of warranty claim against Owen because the oil and gas deed predates Owen’s ownership period. Owen has no obligation under the special warranty deed to defend the property’s title against Terry’s claim. Had Percival received the real estate by general warranty deed, Percival could look to Owen for compensation for the real estate’s diminished value.

Oklahoma does not specifically recognize special warranty deeds by statute. Special warranty deeds are instead rooted in common law and the general right of parties to define the terms of a conveyance by agreement.19

Oklahoma General Warranty Deed Form vs. Oklahoma Quitclaim Deed

An Oklahoma quitclaim deed form is the mirror opposite of a general warranty deed in risk allocation. The current owner transfers the real estate essentially as-is—with no warranty of title and no guaranty as to the validity of the transferred interest.20 The new owner assumes all risk of title defects—known or unknown.

Oklahoma quitclaim deeds typically state that the current owner quitclaims the real estate to the new owner.21 Property owners often use quitclaim deeds to adjust how a property is formally titled—rather than to transfer ownership to a buyer for fair market value.

Oklahoma General Warranty Deed Form vs. Other Types of Oklahoma Deeds

Oklahoma law authorizes additional deed forms characterized by their particular purposes. Two specialized Oklahoma deed forms—life estate deeds and transfer on death deeds—are often useful in estate planning.

  • Life Estate Deed. An Oklahoma life estate deed form creates a real estate interest that lasts until the death of the interest holder—or life tenant.22 A life estate deed also creates a remainder interest that becomes effective when the life tenant dies.23 The life tenant has a duty to respect the remainder interest—limiting the life tenant’s rights in the property during life. A life estate deed can also be a warranty, special warranty, or quitclaim deed—depending on the language of the individual deed.
  • Transfer on Death Deed. An Oklahoma transfer on death deed form—also called TOD deed or beneficiary deed— designates a beneficiary to receive title to real estate after the owner dies.24 TOD deeds allow a property to avoid going through probate but do not affect the current owner’s rights in the property.25 The owner retains the right to sell or mortgage the property—or to revoke the TOD deed—because the beneficiary’s rights do not formally vest until the owner dies.26

Common Uses of Oklahoma General Warranty Deed Forms

General warranty deeds often memorialize fair-market-value sales of real estate. A buyer acquiring land for valuable consideration wants assurance that the seller stands behind the title. The buyer can look to the prior owner for compensation if an unknown title defect later diminishes the value of the purchased real estate.27 A seller reluctant to guaranty a valid and clear title may struggle to find a buyer willing to accept the financial uncertainty that comes with a quitclaim deed.

A mortgage lender financing a real estate acquisition often insists on a general warranty deed reinforced by title insurance as a prerequisite to the loan. A title insurance policy is a contract under which the insurance company agrees—in exchange for a premium payment—to bear the risk of unknown problems with a property’s title.28 The insurer compensates the insured—whether buyer, seller, lender, or a combination of the three—for financial loss caused by a title defect.

Property owners do not ordinarily use warranty deeds for gifted real estate or when a deed’s purpose is to re-title a property without affecting its actual control. An owner creating a joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety by conveying title to the owner and another person typically uses a quitclaim deed rather than a warranty deed.29

How to Create an Oklahoma General Warranty Deed

The Oklahoma Legislature publishes a statutory warranty deed form with model language for the vesting paragraph (as a starting point for deed preparation).30 An Oklahoma deed in substantially the following form is deemed a warranty deed with the three implied covenants of warranty:

Know all men by these Presents:

That [current owner(s)] part __ of the first part, in consideration of the sum of [consideration] dollars, in hand paid, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, do hereby grant, bargain, sell and convey unto [new owner] the following described real property and premises, situate in ____ County, State of Oklahoma, to-wit:

[legal description of real estate]

together with all the improvements thereon and the appurtenances thereunto belonging, and warrant the title to the same.

To have and to hold said described premises unto the said part __ of the second part, [his / her / their] heirs and assigns forever, free, clear and discharged of and from all former grants, charges, taxes, judgments, mortgages and other liens and encumbrances of whatsoever nature;

Signed and delivered this ____ day of ____ 191_.

Oklahoma’s warranty deed form is optional.31 The parties can create a valid general warranty deed without relying on the model language—provided the deed satisfies Oklahoma’s other deed requirements and expresses the current owner’s intent to warrant the real estate’s title.32 Deed parties can agree to limit the scope of a deed’s warranty—for example, by excluding an existing lien—by incorporating exclusionary language within the deed.

Oklahoma law assumes that a warranty deed transfers complete—or fee simple—title to real estate unless the deed specifies otherwise.33 If the current owner holds less than complete title, a warranty deed conveys all title and rights in the real estate the current owner has the power to convey.34

A general warranty deed—like other deed forms—must satisfy all criteria generally applicable to Oklahoma deeds. Among other things, a warranty deed must be correctly formatted,35 include a legal description of the real estate,36 and state the new owner’s name and address on the face of the document.37

Every state has distinct real estate laws, and deed requirements often vary considerably between states. An Oklahoma warranty deed form must meet Oklahoma’s unique requirements—while accurately reflecting the scope of the agreed warranty and any other transfer terms decided by the parties. A deed that is non-compliant or does not correctly memorialize the parties’ agreed terms may be rejected by the clerk or result in an invalid conveyance or other unintended consequences.

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  1. Okla. Stat. §16-4(A).
  2. See, e.g., Depuy v. Selby, 195 P. 107 (Okla. 1919).
  3. Okla. Stat. §16-19.
  4. Okla. Stat. §16-19.
  5. See also Rogers v. Amrey, 251 P. 1013 (Okla. 1926).
  6. Okla. Stat. §16-19.
  7. Schiff v. Dixon, 227 P.2d 639 (Okla. 1951).
  8. See Okla. Stat. §36-709.
  9. Okla. Stat. §16-24.
  10. Okla. Stat. §16-19; see also Okla. Stat. §16-23.
  11. Okla. Stat. §16-25.
  12. Okla. Stat. §16-19; Okla. Stat. §16-40.
  13. See Depuy v. Selby, 195 P. 107 (Okla. 1919).
  14. See, e.g., Chaney v. Haeder, 752 P.2d 854 (Or. Ct. App., 1988).
  15. See, e.g., White v. Wester, 39 P.2d 22 (Okla. 1934).
  16. Rogers v. Amrey, 251 P. 1013 (Okla. 1926).
  17. See Okla. Stat. §16-24.
  18. Whayne v. McBirney, 157 P.2d 161 (Okla. 1945).
  19. Whayne v. McBirney, 157 P.2d 161 (Okla. 1945).
  20. Okla. Stat. §16-18.
  21. See Okla. Stat. §16-41.
  22. Okla. Stat. §1252(A).
  23. See Okla. Stat. §60-30.
  24. Okla. Stat. §1252(A).
  25. Okla. Stat. §58-1258; Okla. Stat. §58-1257.
  26. Okla. Stat. §58-1253.
  27. See Okla. Stat. §16-24.
  28. Okla. Stat. §36-709.
  29. See Okla. Stat. §60-74.
  30. Okla. Stat. §16-40.
  31. Okla. Stat. §16-40.
  32. Okla. Stat. §16-19.
  33. Okla. Stat. §16-29.
  34. Boys v. Long, Okl., 268 P.2d 890 (Okla. 1954).
  35. Okla. Stat. §19-298(B).
  36. Okla. Stat. §19-298(A).
  37. Okla. Stat. §68-32-3203(C).