A deed is a type of document used to transfer Virginia real estate. It allows one or more current owners (grantors) to transfer property to one or more new owners (grantees). Our online deed preparation service supports the following Virginia deed forms:
Virginia recognizes three types of deeds that are defined by the warranty of title they provide or don’t provide.
- General Warranty Deed Form – Provides a full warranty of title that includes a covenant to defend title against all claims, including claims by third parties based on actions that occurred before the grantor owned the property. Va. Code Ann. §§ 55-68 and 55-70 et seq.
- Special Warranty Deed Form – Provides a limited warranty of title that only covers the period when the grantor owned the property. Va. Code Ann. § 55-69.
- Quit Claim Deed Form – Provides no warranty of title.
In addition to the deeds defined by warranty, there are two types of Virginia deeds that are defined by their ability to avoid probate:
- Virginia TOD Deed Form (Transfer-on-Death Deed) – A modern deed form to transfer real estate at death without going through probate and without sacrificing control of the property during the owner’s lifetime.
- Life Estate Deed Form – An older form of deed that transfers property at death, but with significant drawbacks (including loss of complete control over the property during the owner’s lifetime).
Virginia Deed Requirements: Validity and Recording
To be valid, Virginia deeds must meet several important state-specific requirements:
- The deed must be an original or first-generation printed form. Va. Code Ann. § 55.108.
- The deed must be written in printed ink or typed ribbon copy and meet the general recording requirements. Va. Code Ann. § 55.108.
- Each individual’s name must be either underlined or in all capital letters when it first appears in the deed. Va. Code Ann. § 17.1-223(i).
- The first page of the deed must list the name of the person or entity that drafted the deed. Va. Code Ann. § 17.1-223(v).
- The deed must include the names of all grantors and grantees. Va. Code Ann. § 17.1-223(iv).
- If the deed is exempt from recordation tax (as for Virginia TOD deeds), the basis for the exemption must be stated on the face of the deed. Va. Code Ann. § 17.1-223(iii).
In addition to these statutory requirements, individual county clerk’s offices may have county-specific standards for a Virginia deed’s paper size, plats, margins, and font size.
Example: Fairfax County (the largest county in Virginia) requires margins of at least one inch at the top, left, and bottom of each page, with a minimum of one-half inch margins on the right of the page. Paper must be white and unglazed and printing must be black, solid, and uniform print in at least 9-point font or larger.
Our Deed Generator creates deeds that meet all state requirements and any county-specific requirements that we know about. Questions about county-specific requirements should be directed to the county clerk. If a deed must be amended to meet county-specific requirements, we amend the deed at no additional charge.
Counties may also require the deed to be accompanied by a bar-coded cover sheet with information that helps the clerk properly file and index the deed. Va. Code Ann. § 17.1-227.1. This cover sheet can be created online using information from the Virginia court’s website or county-specific pages.
Forms of Co-Ownership of Virginia Real Estate
A deed to multiple concurrent owners may vest title in three ways:
- Tenancy in Common – A form of co-ownership in which each owner owns a proportionate interest in the property. On the death of an owner, the deceased owner’s proportionate interest passes to his or her probate estate.
- Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship – A form of co-ownership in which each owner owns a proportionate interest in the property. On the death of an owner, the deceased owner’s interest passes to the surviving owner or owners without the need for
- Tenancy in Common – A form of spousal co-ownership that is similar to a joint tenancy with right of survivorship, except that the spouses are treated like a single owner. Neither spouse may convey the property without the consent of the other spouse, and creditors of only one spouse cannot seize the property without the consent of the other spouse.
If the deed is silent regarding the form of co-ownership, Virginia law assumes that the owners hold their concurrent interests as tenants in common. Va. Code Ann. § 55-20.2.
How to Transfer Virginia Real Estate
Several easy-to-follow steps are required to create a Virginia deed:
- Locate the most recent deed to the property. Having the most recent deed will give you important information about how names are worded, how title is held, and the legal description of the property.
- Create the new deed. Our Deed Generator uses an easy question-and-answer interview to create the right form of deed based on your circumstances.
- Sign and notarize the new deed. To be valid, the deed must be signed and notarized. The deed must include notary acknowledgment blocks that meet the requirements of Virginia law. Our Deed Generator uses the acknowledgments that are based on the statutorily approved Virginia forms of acknowledgment defined in Va. Code Ann. § 55-118.6.
- Record the deed in the land records of the clerk’s office of the circuit court in the jurisdiction where the property is located. Depending on the circumstances, the clerk’s office may requirement payment of recording tax and completion of a county-specific cover sheet.
Our deed creation software also creates specific instructions (called Next Steps) along with each deed to help explain the process in more detail.