Texas Deed Forms for Real Estate Transfers

Need to transfer Texas real estate?

Our deed creation software makes it easy. Just complete a user-friendly interview and get a customized deed that is attorney-designed to meet Texas recording requirements.

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A deed is a written instrument used to transfer real estate. A deed allows the current owner (the grantor) to transfer Texas real estate to a new owner (the grantee). The owner’s goals determine which type of deed is best for a specific transfer.

What types of deeds are used to transfer Texas real estate?

Texas recognizes four types of deeds that an owner can use to transfer real estate during the owner’s lifetime. Each type of deed is defined by the warranty of title that it provides (or does not provide).

Texas Quitclaim Deed Form

A Texas quitclaim deed form releases the current owner’s interest in property with no warranty. The new owner receives whatever ownership interest (if any) the current owner can legally transfer. The new owner bears the risk that there may be problems with the property’s title.

Texas Deed Without Warranty Form

A Texas deed without warranty form transfers real estate with no warranty. A deed without warranty works similarly to a quitclaim deed, but Texas title insurance companies prefer deeds without warranty. So, a deed without warranty is often the better option for an owner who wants a deed that provides no warranty.

Texas Special Warranty Deed Form

A Texas special warranty deed form transfers real estate with a limited warranty—sometimes called a special warranty. A limited warranty covers the time during which the person signing the special warranty deed owned the property. The new owner assumes the risk that the property’s title may have issues that arose before the current owner acquired the property.

Texas General Warranty Deed Form

A Texas warranty deed form transfers real estate with a complete warranty that covers the property’s entire history.1 The current owner guarantees that there are no issues with the property’s title that the deed does not identify. Texas warranty deeds are sometimes called general warranty deeds because they provide a general warranty that is not limited to any specific time.

Questions about what Texas deed form is right for you?

Click the link below to use our guided interview. We’ll go over the options that are available in Texas and provide guidance on choosing the deed form that matches your goals.

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What types of estate planning deeds are used in Texas?

Property owners can use estate-planning deeds to transfer ownership of real estate when the owner dies. There are three types of estate-planning deeds used in Texas. Each type of estate-planning deed is named after the probate avoidance feature it provides.

Transfer-on-Death (TOD) Deed Form

A Texas transfer-on-death deed form—or TOD deed—allows the owner to name a beneficiary to take ownership of real estate when the owner dies.2 The owner keeps all of his or her rights in the property while still living.

Texas Life Estate Deed Form

A Texas life estate deed form creates two separate ownership interests in the real estate. One owner—called a life tenant—has the right to immediate possession of the property. The other owner—called the remainder beneficiary—holds the right to take possession of the property when the life tenant dies.

Texas Enhanced Life Estate Deed Form

A Texas enhanced life estate deed form—informally called a lady bird deed—is a special type of life estate deed. A lady bird deed gives the life tenant greater control over the property than a standard life estate deed. The enhanced control lets the life tenant sell or transfer the property—or change his or her mind about the Lady Bird deed—without the remainder beneficiary’s consent.

There can be overlap between the different Texas deed categories. For example, a lady bird deed could also be a quitclaim deed if it provides no warranty of title.

Need a Texas transfer-on-death deed?

In states that recognize them, transfer-on-death-deeds (sometimes called beneficiary deeds) are popular probate avoidance tools. Our TOD deed creation software makes it easy to create one. Click the link below to get started.

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What are the ways that multiple owners can hold title to Texas real estate?

There are several ways that multiple owners may acquire title to Texas real estate by deed. These forms of co-ownership usually turn on whether the co-owners have a right of survivorship—which means that a deceased co-owner’s interest automatically transfers to surviving co-owners. If co-owners own real estate without a right of survivorship, a deceased co-owner’s interest does not transfer to surviving co-owners. It instead becomes part of the deceased co-owners probate estate and passes to his or her heirs.

A right of survivorship is only possible when there is a human lifetime to determine when the right of survivorship takes effect. Business entities and trusts do not have a “lifetime,” so a right of survivorship is not possible when one or more of the co-owners is a business or trust.

The default rule in Texas is that jointly owned property does not include a right of survivorship.3 But this is only a default rule. There are several ways joint owners can use Texas deeds and related documents to create a right of survivorship.

Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship

Owners who hold title as joint tenants with right of survivorship have a right of survivorship in the property. Upon one owner’s death, his or her interest automatically transfers to the surviving joint owner or owners.

Many states only require a short phrase in the deed to create a joint tenancy with right of survivorship. Texas law is different. New co-owners of Texas real estate must create a separate survivorship agreement if they want to own the property as joint tenants with right of survivorship.4

Our deed creation software automatically includes any survivorship agreements needed to create a right of survivorship if the new owners intend to own the property with a right of survivorship.

Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is a useful tool when an owner wants the property to pass to the surviving joint owner. When a co-owner dies, transfer to the surviving co-owner is relatively simple and can often be accomplished outside of the probate process.

Joint tenancy with right of survivorship is very common in other states and is allowed by Texas law. However, some third parties—like lenders and title companies—are reluctant to recognize this co-ownership form for Texas real estate. Some title companies decline to insure title to Texas property owned in joint tenancy with right of survivorship. Lenders may also be uncomfortable with joint tenancy with right of survivorship language in the Texas loan documents. An owner who plans to mortgage Texas real estate should check with the lender before creating a joint tenancy with right of survivorship.

Tenancy in Common

Co-owners of Texas real estate who do not want a right of survivorship can own Texas real estate in a tenancy in common—also called a co-tenancy or a joint tenancy without right of survivorship. The co-owners are called tenants in common, and Texas’ default rule determines what happens when a tenant in common dies. Specifically, the deceased co-owner’s interest passes through probate to his or her heirs. The interest does not automatically pass to the surviving joint owner.5

Tenancy in common is a good alternative for co-owners who want their interests in Texas real estate to pass to their heirs instead of the surviving joint owner. But tenancy in common has a downside: There is no right of survivorship, so the Texas probate process may be needed to transfer title to the deceased owner’s family.

Ownership as tenants in common can also be complicated by Texas community property law—which comes into play when a property owner is married. The effect of Texas’ community property system is that—in addition to the wording of the deed—actual ownership of a tenant-in-common interest depends on:

  • The marital status of the person listed on the deed;
  • Whether he or she acquired the property during the marriage; and
  • Whether any special circumstances change the characterization of the marital property from community to separate property.6

What are the rules for spousal ownership of Texas real estate?

Texas has special rules when a property owner is married. Individuals who are married (or expect to be married in the future) should consider Texas’ spousal ownership rules when transferring or receiving ownership of Texas real estate.

Community Property

Texas is a community property state. With certain exceptions, Texas law presumes that any real estate interest a married person acquires during the marriage is jointly owned with his or her spouse as community property.7 This is true even if the Texas deed only lists one spouse. Each spouse generally owns a one-half interest in the couple’s community property.8

Real estate held as community property does not automatically include survivorship rights between the spouses. Instead, when a spouse dies, the deceased spouse’s one-half interest in the real estate passes according to the deceased spouse’s will or Texas intestacy law (i.e., the inheritance system that applies when a deceased person has no will). The surviving spouse continues to own his or her one-half interest in the couple’s community property.

Community Property with Right of Survivorship

Married spouses can ensure that a surviving spouse automatically receives title to real estate owned as community property by creating a community property survivorship agreement—which is an “agreement between spouses creating a right of survivorship in community property.”9 A valid community property survivorship agreement entered into by spouses ensures that some or all of their community property—including real estate—becomes the surviving spouse’s property when the other spouse dies.10

Our deed creation software includes a community property survivorship agreement when necessary to create a right of survivorship.

Homestead Property

Texas does not recognize dower or curtesy rights that require a non-owner spouse’s signature on a deed that transfers property owned solely by the other spouse. However, Texas law requires both spouses to sign a deed if the transferred real estate is the couple’s marital home—called the homestead.11 A deed that transfers a Texas homestead must have both spouses’ signatures regardless of whether the homestead is owned as community property or is one spouse’s separate property.

Where are deeds filed in Texas?

A Texas deed must be recorded in the land records of the county where the property is located.12 Each county has a county clerk responsible for keeping the county’s land records and receiving deeds filed for recording.13

How much does it cost to file a Texas deed?

The county clerk charges a recording fee for recording a Texas deed.14 Total recording fee amounts consist of several related fees, so the precise amount varies by county and by deed.15 A typical recording fee amount is around $26.00 for the deed’s first page and $4.00 for each additional page.

Does Texas charge a transfer tax on real estate transfers?

Texas does not charge a transfer tax or deed tax for transferring Texas real estate or recording a deed that transfers title to a new owner.

Does Texas require any other form when recording a deed?

Texas does not require a cover page, transfer tax return, or other additional documents when recording a deed. Some deeds may need to be accompanied by one or more additional documents—such as a declaration of trust, power of attorney, or statement of authority—depending on the deed’s purpose.

Get a Texas deed in minutes

Our deed creation service makes it easy to prepare customized, state-specific deeds to Texas real estate. Just complete a user-friendly interview and get a customized deed that is attorney-designed to meet Texas recording requirements.

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  1. Tex. Prop. Code § 5.022.
  2. Tex. Est. Code § 114.051.
  3. Tex. Est. Code § 101.002.
  4. Tex. Est. Code § 111.001.
  5. Tex. Est. Code § 101.002(a).
  6. Tex. Fam. Code § 3.003.
  7. Tex. Fam. Code § 3.002.
  8. Farmers Tex. Cnty. Mut. Ins. Co. v. Okelberry ex rel. Okelberry, 525 S.W.3d 786 (Tex. App. 2017).
  9. Tex. Est. Code § 112.001.
  10. Tex. Est. Code § 112.051.
  11. Tex. Fam. Code § 5.001.
  12. Tex. Prop. Code § 11.001.
  13. Tex. Prop. Code § 11.004.
  14. Tex. Prop. Code § 11.003(c).
  15. Tex. Loc. Gov’t Code §§ 118.011(a); 118.013.