A deed is a legal document used to transfer Utah real estate. A deed allows one or more current owners, called grantors, to transfer Utah real estate to one or more new owners, called grantees. Transferring Utah real estate involves four general steps:
- Locate the Prior Deed to the Property. The prior deed is the best source for important information like the way the owner’s names are worded and the legal description of the property. You will need this information to create the new deed.
- Create the New Deed. There are many decisions to make when creating a new deed, including selecting the appropriate deed type, warranty of title, consideration, and form of co-ownership. Our Deed Generator simplifies the process by using a step-by-step, plain English interview process to walk you through the decisions. It then creates the type of deed that matches the decisions you made in the interview.
- Sign and Notarize the New Deed. To be effective, the current owner or owners (grantors) must sign and notarize the deed. There is ordinarily no requirement for the grantees to sign the deed.
- File the Deed with the County. The deed must be recorded in the land records in the county recorder’s office in the county where the property is located.
The steps for signing, notarizing, and filing the deed are explained in more detail in the customized instructions (Next Steps) that our software creates to accompany each deed created by our Deed Generator.
Types of Utah Deeds
Utah recognizes three types of deeds that are defined by the warranty of title they provide:
- General Warranty Deed – Gives broad protection to the grantee by warranting that the grantor has free and clear ownership of the property (subject to the exceptions stated in the deed), has the right to convey the property, and will defend the title against any claims, even if the claim arose before the grantor acquired the property. Utah Code § 57-1-12.
- Special Warranty Deed – Gives a more limited warranty that only extends to the time when the grantor owned the property. Special warranty deeds make no guarantees about what may have happened before the grantor acquired the property. Utah Code § 57-1-12.5.
- Quitclaim Deed – Provides no warranty of title. The grantee takes the property “as is.” Although the deed effectively conveys whatever interest the grantor had, the grantee bears the risk of any title problem are other issues affecting the property. Quitclaim deeds are most often used when the property is transferred as a gift. Utah Code § 57-1-13.
Utah also recognizes two types of deeds that are commonly used to avoid probate:
- Utah Transfer-on-Death (TOD) Deed – A popular form of deed specifically authorized by Utah law to transfer property to a beneficiary on the death of the owner without the need for Unlike life estate deeds, discussed below, a TOD deed allows the grantor to keep complete control over the property during life. The grantor may change or revoke the deed at any time without involving the beneficiary.
- Utah Life Estate Deed – An older deed form that reserves a life estate that allows the grantor to use the property during life, then transfers the property to remainder beneficiaries at the grantor’s death. Unlike a TOD deed, the grantor cannot change or revoke the deed or otherwise sell, mortgage, or lease the property without involving the remainder beneficiaries.
Utah Deed Requirements
To be valid, Utah deeds must meet the requirements of Utah law. These requirements include:
- The original deed or a certified copy must be presented for recording. Utah Code § 17-21-20(a).
- The deed must be written in English or accompanied by an accurate English translation. Utah Code § 17-21-20(b).
- The first page of the deed must include a brief title, heading, or caption that states the title of the deed. Utah Code § 17-21-20(c).
- The deed must include a valid legal description of the property being conveyed. Utah Code § 17-21-20(d); Utah Code § 57-3-105(2).
- The deed must have original signature and be notarized with the notary stamp with the seal legible. Utah Code § 17-21-20(f), (g).
- The name of each person who signs the deed should appear in print beneath each person’s signature. Utah Code § 17-21-22.
- The deed must name the grantees. Utah Code § 57-3-105(e).
- The deed must include a mailing address to be used for assessment and taxation. Utah Code § 57-3-105(e).
In addition to these statewide requirements, there are several requirements that county recorders may include. These requirements are specified in Utah Code § 17-21-20(3) and include:
- The deed must be on white paper that is 8-1/2 inches by 11 inches in size.
- The deed must have a margin of one inch on the left and right sides and at the bottom of each page.
- The deed must have a space of 2-1/2 inches down and 4-1/2 inches across the upper right corner of the first page and a margin of one inch at the top of each following
- The deed cannot be on sheets of paper that are continuously bound together at the side, top, or bottom.
- The deed cannot contain printed material on more than one side of each page.
- The deed must be printed in black ink and not have text smaller than seven lines of text per vertical inch.
- The deed must be sufficiently legible to make certified copies.
The parcel identification number that is used for property tax purposes should be included on the first page of the deed or added to the legal description of the property.
Each deed created by our Deed Generator is attorney-designed to meet these requirements and to be eligible for recording in all Utah counties.
Spousal Ownership of Utah Real Estate
Utah law allows a head of the family to claim a homestead exemption for the family’s principal residence. The homestead exemption is limited to $20,000 for an individual and $40,000 for a household. To take advantage of this exemption, the property owners must file a homestead declaration in the county recorder’s office in the county where the property is located.
Utah law also restricts the ability of one spouse to transfer homestead property without the consent of the other spouse. If an individual is married, he or she cannot convey homestead property without the signature of the other spouse to join in the deed. Utah Code § 78B-5-504. Even if only one spouse is listed on the prior deed, both spouses must join in the transfer if the property is homestead property.
Forms of Co-Ownership of Utah Real Estate
A deed may transfer property to any number of grantees. When a deed is to multiple grantees, Utah law recognizes two primary forms of co-ownership:
- Tenancy in Common – Each owner has an undivided interest in the property that can be freely transferred. On the death of an owner, his or her interest passes to his or her probate estate.
- Joint Tenancy – Similar to a tenancy in common, except that joint tenancy includes a right of survivorship. On the death of a joint tenant, his or her interest passes to the remaining joint tenants.
Because the right of survivorship included a joint tenancy requires a measuring life, joint tenancy is only available to living persons, not to businesses, trusts, or other legal entities.
A transfer to a husband and wife is presumed to create a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. Utah Code § 57-1-5. For deeds to other grantees, the deed is presumed to create a tenancy in common unless the deed contains language like “joint tenancy” or “with rights of survivorship.” Utah Code § 57-1-5.
Utah does not recognize tenancy by the entirety. Any transfer to a married couple as tenants by the entirety will instead create a joint tenancy. Utah Code § 57-1-5(7). Similarly, because Utah is not a community property state, any tenants holding title as community property are considered joint tenants. Utah Code § 57-1-5(8).