Tennessee Quitclaim Deeds
What Is a Tennessee Quitclaim Deed Form?
A property owner transfers Tennessee real estate by signing and recording a written deed.1 A Tennessee quitclaim deed form transfers the current owner’s entire interest in the property with no warranty or covenants of title.2 The new owner (the grantee) receives whatever ownership interest the current owner (the grantor) can legally transfer. But the grantor does not promise the grantee that the title to the property is valid or that the property is free of liens and other potential title problems.
What Is Warranty of Title?
Warranty of title is a guarantee that a deed transfers good title to real estate. A property owner who signs a deed with warranty of title makes one or more promises—called covenants of title—to the new owner. The nature of the warranty and the covenants of title provided depends on the type of deed.
A person who signs a deed that transfers property with complete warranty of title—also called a general warranty—guarantees that:
- The signer owns and has the right to transfer the property;
- No undisclosed liens, mortgages, or other issues impair the property’s title;
- No third-party claims will disturb the new owner’s ownership of the property; and
- The signer will defend the new owner’s title and will accept responsibility if a title problem arises.3
Warranty of title protects the new owner by keeping some or all risk of title problems with the prior owner who signed the deed. The new owner can sue the prior owner for breach of warranty to recover financial loss caused by a title problem covered by the warranty.4
Warranty of Title and Tennessee Quitclaim Deeds
A property owner who uses a quitclaim deed to transfer an interest in Tennessee real estate does not warrant the property’s title. The new owner therefore assumes all risk of problems with the property’s title. The new owner has no breach-of-warranty claim against the prior owner if, for example, the prior owner did not actually own the property or if an undisclosed lien reduces the property’s value.
Other Names for a Tennessee Quitclaim Deed Form
Tennessee law uses the term quitclaim deed—also written as quit claim deed or quit-claim deed—for a deed that transfers an owner’s interest with no warranty or covenants of title. The terms below are synonyms for quitclaim deed that are used in other states:
- Release deed. A deed with no warranty of title is sometimes called a release deed—especially when it surrenders a co-owner’s interest to another co-owner or resolves a title dispute.5 In Tennessee, release deed typically means a deed that releases a recorded mortgage or lien.6
- Quitclaim deed without covenant. Real estate laws in a few states imply covenants of title in a deed titled Quitclaim Deed.7 In those states, a quitclaim deed without covenant functions like a Tennessee quitclaim deed—transferring the owner’s interest with no warranty.
- No-warranty deed or deed without warranty. Lawyers and title insurance companies in some states dislike quitclaim deeds. A property owner in such a state can use a no-warranty deed or deed without warranty to transfer property with no warranty.8
How Do Tennessee Quitclaim Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?
A Tennessee quitclaim deed transfers the owner’s interest with no warranty and places all risk of title problems on the new owner.9 Tennessee law authorizes other types of deeds with covenants of title that keep some or all risk with the current owner.
Tennessee Quitclaim Deeds vs. Warranty Deeds
A Tennessee warranty deed form provides the most complete warranty of title. A warranty deed—also called a general warranty deed—guarantees the new owner valid title subject to no undisclosed title problems. Property owners who sign general warranty deeds “warrant the title against all persons whomsoever.”10 The warranty covers the property’s entire ownership history.
Warranty deeds are the opposite of quitclaim deeds in how they allocate title-related risk. While the new owner bears all risk under a quitclaim deed, a warranty deed places all risk on the current owner who signs the deed—unless an issue is expressly excluded in the deed.
Tennessee Quitclaim Deeds vs. Special Warranty Deeds
A Tennessee special warranty deed form transfers real estate with limited warranty of title. The current owner guarantees a valid title, but the warranty covers only issues derived from the current owner’s ownership of the property.11 A special warranty deed covers title problems caused by events that occurred while the current owner held title. Its warranty does not cover issues that arose before the current owner acquired the property.
Special warranty deeds split the risk of title problems between the current and new owners. The current owner keeps the risk for issues that arose while he or she held title. The new owner bears the risk for everything else.
Title Insurance and Tennessee Quitclaim Deeds
Title insurance is an insurance policy that protects the insured person against financial loss caused by problems with a property’s title.12 Issues covered by title insurance could include:
- Liens or assessments on the property;
- An unclear chain of title caused by a defective earlier deed; or
- A boundary dispute caused by conflicting land records.
An owner who acquires real estate through a quitclaim deed bears all risk of title problems. If a problem emerges, the owner may incur considerable financial loss. Title insurance lets the owner shift the risk to an insurance company in exchange for an up-front premium payment. Tennessee law requires title insurers to arrange for a professional title examination before issuing a policy—which increases the likelihood that title problems are discovered earlier.13
Quitclaim Deeds and Other Tennessee Deeds Used in Estate Planning
Quitclaim deeds, warranty deeds, and special warranty deeds transfer property during the owner’s life and have names based on their warranty of title (or lack of warranty). The estate-planning deeds described below transfer property when the owner dies and are named for how they function.
- Transfer-on-death deeds. A transfer-on-death (TOD) deed names a beneficiary to take title outside probate at the owner’s death without reducing the owner’s property rights during life. Tennessee has not yet authorized TOD deeds. A bill adopting the Uniform Real Property Transfer on Death Act—which would authorize TOD deeds in Tennessee—is pending before Tennessee’s legislature.
- Tennessee life estate deed. A life estate deed creates two ownership interests in the same property. A life estate is an interest that gives the interest holder (the life tenant) ownership until the life tenant’s death.14 The remainder is a future interest that gives the interest holder (the remainderman or remainder beneficiary) ownership after the life tenant dies. A life tenant has a duty not to interfere with the remainder interest, so a life tenant can transfer only the life estate—not complete title.15
- Survivorship deed. A survivorship deed transfers property to two or more co-owners with a right of survivorship. A Tennessee survivorship deed can declare the new co-owners joint tenants with right of survivorship or, if they are married spouses, tenants by the entirety. In either case, the surviving owner receives complete ownership upon the other owner’s death.16 A sole property owner can avoid probate by recording a survivorship deed naming the owner and another person as co-owners.17
Note: Life estate deeds and survivorship deeds can transfer property with or without warranty of title. Deeds of either type usually have titles based on their warranties. Thus, a Tennessee life estate deed’s or survivorship deed’s title might be Quitclaim Deed, Warranty Deed, or Special Warranty Deed. A Tennessee quitclaim deed could conceivably be both a life estate deed and a survivorship deed—for example, if it names two remainder beneficiaries who are joint tenants with right of survivorship. By comparison, states that recognize TOD deeds often require the title Transfer-on-Death Deed and do not allow TOD deeds to provide warranty of title.
Common Uses of Tennessee Quitclaim Deed Forms
Tennessee quitclaim deeds are often appropriate when there is a connection between the two parties and the deed involves no consideration—or value provided in exchange for the transfer. A quitclaim deed might, for example:
- Transfer real estate to a family member as a gift;
- Retitle property to the owner and the owner’s spouse as joint tenants with right of survivorship or tenants by the entirety;18
- Divide property owned by divorced former spouses;19
- Place a property’s title in a living trust of which the current owner is trustee or beneficiary;20 or
- Transfer title to an LLC controlled by the current owner.21
How to Create a Tennessee Quitclaim Deed
A Tennessee quitclaim deed form must meet three objectives:
- It must establish that the transfer involves no covenants or warranty of title.
- It must comply with Tennessee’s legal requirements for all deeds.
- It must accurately reflect the parties’ intended transfer terms.
Tennessee Quitclaim Deed Requirements
Tennessee’s real estate laws include form phrasing for a quitclaim deed’s transfer language—also called a vesting clause or granting clause. A quitclaim deed that relies on the statutory language says that the current owner “hereby quitclaims to [the new owner] all [the current owner’s] interest in the following land.”22 The legal description of the property follows directly below the vesting clause.
The suggested language is optional and can be modified to fit the circumstances.23 However, a quitclaim deed must avoid any language that expressly or implicitly suggests that the current owner is warranting the property’s title.
Tennessee General Deed Requirements
All Tennessee deeds must satisfy Tennessee’s general requirements for deeds. A deed that omits required information may be ineligible for recording or fail to legally transfer title. Tennessee’s deed requirements include (without limitation):
- The name, address, and marital status of the current owner and new owner;24
- A legal description of the property and a derivation clause identifying the deed or other source of the current owner’s title;25
- The name and address of the person who prepared the deed;26
- The current owner’s notarized signature;27 and
- A statement of consideration or value signed by the new owner.28
Selecting a Tennessee Quitclaim Deed Form
A Tennessee quitclaim deed form should be tailored to the parties’ objectives. If the deed names more than one new owner—for example—it should declare the new owners’ co-ownership form.29 Tennessee law assumes that a quitclaim deed transfers the owner’s complete interest in the property, but a deed can expressly transfer a lesser interest, like a life estate.30
Each state has its own real estate system, so a deed intended to transfer Tennessee real estate must be designed for use in Tennessee. A quitclaim deed form prepared for another state will likely omit one or more of Tennessee’s key requirements. A county register of deeds is prohibited from accepting a deed for recording if the deed fails to comply with Tennessee law.31
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-24-101(4).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-5-103(2).
- See Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-5-103(1).
- See Dickinson v. Bain, 921 S.W.2d 189 (Tenn. 1996).
- See, e.g., Henningsen v. Stromberg, 221 P.2d 438 (Mont. 1950).
- See Barton v. Barton, 78 S.W.2d 356 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1935).
- See, e.g., S.D. Cod. Laws § 43-25-11, 33 Maine Rev. Stat. § 765.
- See, e.g., Tex. Prop. Code § 5.023 (implying covenants of title “unless the conveyance expressly provides otherwise”).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-5-103(2).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-5-103(1)(A).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-5-103(1)(B).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-35-102(11).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 56-35-129.
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-1-103.
- Edwards v. Puckett, 268 S.W.2d 582 (Tenn. 1954).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-1-107.
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-1-109.
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-1-109.
- See Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-409(a)(1)(c)(v).
- See Tenn. Code Ann. § 35-15-402(d)(1).
- See Tenn. Code Ann. § 48-249-402.
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-5-103(2).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-5-103.
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-24-114.
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-24-110(a)(1).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-24-115.
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-22-101(a)
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 67-4-409(a)(6).
- See Bryant v. Bryant, 522 S.W.3d 392 (Tenn. 2017).
- Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-5-101.
- See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 66-24-110(a); 66-24-114.