The Washington statutory warranty deed is a form of deed that provides an unlimited warranty of title. It makes an absolute guarantee that the current owner has good title to the property. The warranty is not limited to the time that the current owner owned the property. This means that the current owner could be legally responsible for title issues that arose before the current owner acquired the property. In Washington, statutory warranty deeds are often used:
Special language is required to ensure that the deed qualifies as a statutory warranty deed. This language is automatically included by our deed preparation service and valid in all Washington counties.
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:
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.
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.
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:
A Washington warranty deed form also differs from two types of Washington deeds that are named after their estate planning (probate avoidance) feature:
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.
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.
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.