Washington Warranty Deed Form

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What is a Washington Statutory Warranty Deed?

A Washington statutory warranty deed form (sometimes called a general warranty deed or simply a warranty deed) transfers Washington real estate from the current owner (grantor) to the new owner (grantee) with a full warranty of title.

A Washington statutory warranty deed form is “statutory” in that the warranties included in the deed are specifically defined by statute. Under RCW 64.04.030, a grantor that signs a Washington warranty deed form promises:

  • That the grantor owns and has the right to convey the property;
  • That the grantor is free and clear of all encumbrances (mortgages, liens, etc.) other than those disclosed in the deed;
  • That the grantee will be able to use and enjoy the property without interference by third parties (quiet enjoyment); and
  • That the grantor will defend the title to the property against anyone that might claim a right to the property.

The last point—the grantor’s obligation to defend the title against anyone that might claim a right to the property—distinguishes a Washington statutory warranty deed form from a Washington bargain-and-sale deed form, which only requires the grantor to defend the title against problems that arose while the grantor owned the property.

Other Names for a Washington Statutory Warranty Deed Form

A Washington statutory warranty deed form is sometimes called a Washington general warranty deed form or simply as a Washington warranty deed form. These terms are all correct and can refer to the deed authorized by RCW 64.04.030.

Relationship of Washington Warranty Deed Form to Warranty of Title

The term statutory warranty deed deals exclusively with the warranty of title provided by the deed. A Washington warranty deed provides the most protection for the grantee and, conversely, places the most risk on the grantor. A grantor that signs a warranty deed promises to defend the title to the property against claims by anyone—including claims that arose before the grantor owned the property.

The warranty of title provided by a warranty deed form distinguishes it from three other Washington deed forms that are defined by their warranties of title:

  1. Washington Bargain-and-Sale Deed Form – A Washington bargain-and-sale deed form includes promises by the grantor that are limited to the time when the grantor owned the property. The grantor makes no guarantees about any title issues that arose before the grantor acquired the property.
  2. Washington Special Warranty Deed Form – Similar to a Washington bargain-and-sale deed form, except that the warranties are stated in the deed instead of being defined by statute.
  3. Washington Quit Claim Deed Form – Provides no warranty of title. For a quitclaim deed, The grantee takes title “as is” and cannot sue the grantor for title problems (or even if the grantor didn’t own the property at all).

A Washington warranty deed form also differs from two types of Washington deeds that are named after their estate planning (probate avoidance) feature:

  1. Washington Life Estate Deed Form – Divides ownership of Washington real estate into a life estate that is possessory during the original owner’s life and a remainder interest that passes to named beneficiaries at the owner’s death. A life estate deed avoids probate, but at a cost: The original owner loses the ability to deal with the property or change his or her mind during life.
  2. Washington TOD Deed Form – Also called a transfer-on-death deed, this newer deed form allows an owner to pass property outside of probate at death without giving up control during life.

Because a life estate deed can include a warranty of title, a single deed may be both a life estate deed and a statutory warranty deed.

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.

Common Uses of Statutory Warranty Deeds

A statutory warranty deed form creates risk for the grantor. The grantor is responsible—not just for his or her actions—but for all title issues, including those relating to the time before the grantor owned the property. Because of this risk, most grantors are unwilling to sign a statutory warranty deed unless the grantee is paying full value for the property. Even in the sale context, most grantors will want an attorney’s opinion or title insurance policy to shift the risk associated with the warranty deed to the attorney or title company.

How to Create a Washington Statutory Warranty Deed

A Washington statutory warranty deed is authorized by RCW 64.04.030 and must meet the requirements of that section, including the right vesting and warranty language. The deed must also meet the general requirements that apply to other Washington deed forms. These requirements include a valid legal description, statement of consideration, and a description of the manner in which co-owners will hold title, font size and page format requirements, and signature and notarization requirements.

It is important to use a deed designed to meet the requirements of Washington law. A deed designed for use in another state—or, perhaps worse, a generic fill-in-the-blank form—may not be valid or eligible for recording in Washington. Even if it is eligible for recording, minor differences in language can create title issues that remain hidden for years and require costly litigation to resolve.

Each deed prepared by our online deed preparation service was attorney-designed to meet the requirements of Washington law and to be eligible for recording in all Washington counties.