How a Texas Quitclaim Deed Form Works
A Texas quitclaim deed form is a specific type of deed that releases whatever interest is owned by the person signing the deed. The person that signs the deed does not guarantee that he or she owns or has clear title to the real estate described in the deed.
Quitclaim deeds are very common and can be used without problems in most other states. Because of this, many people are told that they need a quitclaim deed to transfer Texas real estate. But there are problems with using a quitclaim deed form in Texas. As discussed below, a deed without warranty is often a better choice for transferors that want to transfer Texas real estate without a warranty of title.
The Problem with Quitclaim Deed Forms in Texas
Quitclaim deeds are valid in other states, and they are also valid in Texas. The problem isn’t with the validity of the deed, but with title insurance. Texas title insurance companies are notoriously wary of quitclaim deeds.
The problem has to do with how title insurance companies interpret Texas Property Code § 13.001(b). That Section states that unrecorded instruments are “binding on … any subsequent purchaser who does not pay a valuable consideration.” Some title insurance companies believe that transfers made without consideration—as quitclaim deeds often are—are subject to risk of a prior conveyance. Because of this risk, title insurance companies are reluctant to insure title to property when there is a quitclaim deed in the chain of title.
Because of the role of title insurance in modern real estate practice, it is always better to use deeds that satisfy title insurance companies. A Texas deed without warranty does that. A deed without warranty is like a quitclaim deed in that the seller is not liable for any title defects. But, unlike a quitclaim deed, a deed without warranty actually transfers property instead of just releasing it.
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Other Names for Texas Quitclaim Deeds
A Texas quitclaim deed can also be called a quit claim deed (with a space between “quit” and “claim”). Both terms are correct and can be used interchangeably. Some people mistakenly call a quitclaim deed a quick claim deed, which is incorrect. There is no such thing as a quick claim deed or quick claim deed form.
Relationship of Quitclaim Deed to Warranty of Title
Key Term: Warranty of Title. Title issues can be caused by many things, including errors in the public record, unknown liens against the property, undisclosed prior conveyances, forged deeds, missing heirs or unprobated wills, or disputes about boundary lines or surveys. Title issues often require legal action to fix and can decrease the value of real estate. If the property has no title issues, it is said to have clear title. A warranty of title is a legal guarantee from the transferor to the transferee that there are no title issues. If a deed makes a warranty of title, the transferee can sue the transferor over any title issues.
Both quitclaim deeds and deeds without warranty are defined by the lack of a warranty of title. The person transferring the property is simply giving whatever interest he or she has to the person receiving the property. If there is a problem with the title to the property, the person who receives the property does not have any legal rights against the transferor. As one Texas court stated:
A quitclaim deed conveys any title, interest, or claim of the grantor in the real property, but it does not profess that the title is valid nor does it contain any warranty or covenants of title. Thus, a quitclaim deed does not establish title in the person holding the deed, but merely passes whatever interest the grantor has in the property.” Diversified, Inc. v. Hall, 23 S.W.3d 403 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2000, pet. denied).
The lack of a warranty of title distinguishes both Texas quitclaim deed forms and Texas deeds without warranty from other forms of Texas deeds—like Texas warranty deeds and Texas special warranty deeds—that include a full or limited warranty of title.
Because they are defined by their lack of warranty, a quitclaim deed and deed without warranty are also different from deeds that are defined by probate avoidance features. In Texas, lady bird deeds (also called enhanced life estate deeds) and transfer-on-death deeds can avoid probate of real estate. Because these deeds are named after their probate avoidance features (and not the warranty of title), a deed can be called by two names. Specifically, a lady bird deed may also be a quitclaim deed or deed without warranty.
Common Uses of Quitclaim Deeds
In Texas, the most common use of a quitclaim deed is to release an interest in property to someone already listed on the title. For example, a Texas quitclaim deed could be used to release the property to an ex-spouse following a divorce or otherwise remove an owner from title.
Because most buyers will require more protection than a quitclaim deed provides, quitclaim deeds are rarely used in the sale context. Instead, they are used when Texas real estate is transferred without consideration (as a gift).
How to Create a Texas Quitclaim Deed or Deed Without Warranty
The granting clause of a Texas quitclaim deed form omits the phrase “grant, sell, and convey” that is used in the warranty deed form provided by statute in Texas Property Code § 5.022. Instead, a quitclaim deed form uses the word “quitclaim” or a similar phrase like “remise, release, and quitclaim” as an alternative.
The granting clause of a deed without warranty uses the standard “grant, sell, and convey” language found in other forms of Texas deeds like warranty deeds and special warranty deeds. But a deed without warranty also includes a separate section that excludes all warranties, including those that might arise by common law or under Texas Property Code § 5.023.
These differences in language may seem like subtle distinctions, but there are reasons behind them. For both quitclaim deeds and deeds without warranty, the person that signs the deed is not responsible for any problems with title. But a person that conveys property by quitclaim deed does not claim to convey clear title to the person who receives the property. Instead, the person that signs the deed simply releases any interest in the property that they own to the person named in the deed. In a deed without warranty, including the “grant, sell, and convey” language clarifies that the person is actually transferring the property.
Quitclaims deed and deeds without warranty must also meet the requirements that apply to all Texas deeds, including a valid legal description, statement of consideration, and a description of the manner in which co-owners will hold title. The deed must also use the required font size, include the required margins, and meet the other general page formatting requirements. The document should also include the correct signature blocks and notarization acknowledgments that comply with Texas law.
Because of the subtle nuances between quitclaim deeds and other forms of deeds (like warranty deeds or special warranty deeds), it is important to get the wording right. Seemingly insignificant differences in language can have disastrous legal consequences. Each deed prepared by our Deed Generator was designed by licensed Texas attorneys to meet the requirements of Texas law.