West Virginia Warranty Deed Form

Need to create a West Virginia general warranty deed?

Our deed creation service makes it easy. Just complete a user-friendly interview and get a customized deed that is attorney-designed to meet West Virginia recording requirements.

Get a Customized West Virginia Deed Today

What Is a West Virginia General Warranty Deed Form?

A property owner in West Virginia formally transfers title, or property ownership, by signing and recording a written deed.1 A general warranty deed is a type of West Virginia deed that transfers property with general warranty.2

A property owner who signs a general warranty deed promises to stand behind the transferred title—defending the new owner’s property rights against competing claims. The current owner has a duty to make the new owner whole if another person asserts a superior claim on the property in the future.

How Does Warranty of Title Work in West Virginia?

Warranty of title is a guarantee from the current owner to the new owner. A property owner transferring real estate with warranty of title promises that the new owner is receiving a valid, clear ownership interest in the property. The warranty is a legally enforceable right that protects the new owner if problems arise with the property’s title after the transfer.

Covenants of Title

Common law warranty of title consists of six related promises—called covenants of title:

  1. Covenant of seisin. The current owner holds true legal title to the property.
  2. Covenant of right to convey. The current owner has the legal right to transfer the property to the new owner.
  3. Covenant against encumbrances. The property’s title is free of encumbrances—such as hidden liens or mortgages (also called covenant of freedom from encumbrances).
  4. Covenant of quiet enjoyment. The new owner will have free and unlimited use of the property (also called the covenant of quiet possession).
  5. Covenant of warranty. The current owner will legally defend the new owner’s title against all lawful third-party claims.
  6. Covenant of further assurances The current owner will sign any future documents necessary to confirm the new owner’s title.3 citing 6A Powell on Real Property at 81A-130.

Some states include some or all covenants of title in a deed that transfers property with general warranty. West Virginia includes only the covenant of warranty without other specific language.4 A property owner who wants to provide other covenants must specifically adopt those covenants in the body of the deed.5

How Warranty of Title Protects the New Owner

Warranty of title protects the new owner by allowing him or her to seek payment from the prior owner if a problem with the property’s title deprives the new owner of some or all of the property’s value. 6 For example, a buyer who loses ownership of real estate because another person asserts a superior claim can sue for breach of warranty. If the lawsuit is successful, he or she can also get back the purchase price with interest.7 citing Moreland v. Metz, 24 W.Va. 119 (1884).

Other Names for a West Virginia General Warranty Deed Form

West Virginia courts and the West Virginia Code usually call a deed that transfers property with warranty of title a general warranty deed. Attorneys in the state often use the shorter name warranty deed, and West Virginia deeds are often called warranty deeds. There is no legal difference between the two, but general warranty deed avoids confusion with another West Virginia deed form called a special warranty deed.

The term statutory warranty deed has the same meaning as general warranty deed in some states.8 A statutory warranty deed is a deed that includes a warranty based on language suggested in a state law. West Virginia lawyers and courts do not regularly use statutory warranty deed.

How Do West Virginia General Warranty Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?

A general warranty deed protects a real estate buyer by keeping the risk of title defects with the seller. Title defects are issues with a property’s title that make it less valuable or more difficult to sell. Possible title defects include:

  • Outstanding liens;
  • An unclear chain of title caused by a defect in an earlier deed;
  • Another claim arising from an administrative error in a prior owner’s estate; and
  • Boundary disputes or a difference in surveys.

General warranty deeds provide complete warranty of title—which means the warranty covers any title problem not specifically excluded. West Virginia law also recognizes other deed forms that come with lesser or no warranty of title.

West Virginia Quitclaim Deed

A West Virginia quitclaim deed form provides no warranty of title. The new owner receives whatever title or interest the current owner can legally transfer in whatever condition it happens to be.9 Title defects are only the new owner’s responsibility. The current owner bears no risk and makes no promises about whether the deed actually transfers a lawful interest.

West Virginia Special Warranty Deed

A West Virginia special warranty deed form transfers real estate with limited warranty of title—splitting the risk between the current owner and the new owner.10 The warranty is limited because it applies only to problems that arose while the current owner held title. A title defect rooted in events that occurred before the current owner owned the property is outside of the warranty.11 A defect outside of the warranty is the new owner’s responsibility.

West Virginia General Warranty Deeds and Other West Virginia Deed Forms

West Virginia law recognizes other deed forms not defined by the deed’s warranty of title. Two such deeds—West Virginia life estate deeds and West Virginia transfer-on-death deeds—are useful tools for estate planning. Both of these deed forms can transfer West Virginia real estate to the next generation outside of probate.

West Virginia Transfer-on-Death Deed

A West Virginia transfer-on-death deed—or TOD deed—transfers real estate to a named beneficiary as soon as the current owner dies.12 The advantage of TOD deeds over life estate deeds is that TOD deeds are revocable, meaning they can be undone. They also do not limit the owner’s rights in the property during life.13

West Virginia Life Estate Deed

A life estate deed creates two property interests. The life estate is an interest that lasts until the owner dies. The remainder interest is a vested right to future ownership after the life estate ends.14 Life estate deeds used in estate planning typically reserve a life estate to the property’s current owner and give the remainder interest to the owner’s children or other beneficiaries.

Attorney Practice Note: West Virginia law does not allow TOD deeds to transfer real estate with warranty of title.15 Life estate deeds can provide a warranty, depending on their language. For example, a West Virginia life estate deed might also be a warranty deed.

Common Uses of West Virginia General Warranty Deed Forms

West Virginia general warranty deeds typically transfer title to real estate bought for valuable payment, in the law called consideration. A buyer acquiring real estate for fair market value wants to be sure that he or she is receiving a clear title. A general warranty deed promises the title is clear and gives the buyer the right to sue the seller if the deed is defective. A buyer who loses the property because someone else brings a more valid title—for example—can get the purchase price back, plus interest.16

A property owner transferring West Virginia real estate to a new owner giving little or no consideration can use a general warranty deed. However, they are much less common in that kind of case. Quitclaim deeds are the more popular option for transferring title for no consideration.

How to Create a West Virginia General Warranty Deed

A person creating a West Virginia general warranty deed must ensure that the deed shows the correct warranty and follows West Virginia’s rules for all deeds.

The West Virginia Code suggests several phrases to add the current owner’s covenant of warranty.17

  • The owner “will warrant generally” the transferred real estate.
  • The owner transfers the real estate “with general warranty.”
  • The owner “will forever warrant and defend the property against the claims and demands of all persons whomsoever.”

These phrases alone are not enough to include other common-law covenants of title within a West Virginia warranty deed.18 West Virginia warranty deeds can add one or more other covenants of title using the following statutory short-form language found in the law for each covenant:

  • Covenant of right to convey. The owner “has the right to convey the said land to the [new owner].”19
  • Covenant of quiet possession. The new owner “shall have quiet possession of the said land.”20
  • Covenant of freedom from encumbrances. The property is “free from all encumbrances.” W.Va. Code § 36-4-6.
  • Covenant of further assurances. The current owner “will execute such further assurances of the said lands as may be requisite.”21

The effect of each covenant of title is described earlier in this article. The parties can change a warranty deed by, for example, leaving out certain conditions or limiting the warranty’s scope.22

Attorney Practice Note: West Virginia has no short-form language in the law for the sixth common law covenant of title—the covenant of seisin—which is the owner’s promise that he or she holds lawful title.23 Warranty deeds that include the covenant of seisin typically state that the current owner is lawfully seized or lawfully seised in fee of the real estate.

A West Virginia warranty deed must also meet the West Virginia deed recording requirements that apply to all deeds. Requirements include proper formatting, complete information, and signatures and notarization.24

West Virginia law governing warranty deeds is unique, so a warranty deed used in West Virginia must be designed for West Virginia. A deed that is carelessly prepared or based on another state’s laws may be invalid in West Virginia or result in terms the parties did not intend. A faulty deed can also cause long-term problems with the property’s chain of title that may be costly to fix.

Need a general warranty deed that meets West Virginia recording requirements?

Each deed produced by deed creation service is attorney-designed to comply with West Virginia law. Just complete a user-friendly interview and get a customized deed in minutes.

Get a Customized West Virginia Deed Today

  1. W.Va. Code § 39-1-2; W.Va. Code § 40-1-9.
  2. W.Va. Code § 36-4-2.
  3. Washington Const. v. Urban Renewal Auth., 383 S.E.2d 41 (W.Va. 1989),
  4. W.Va. Code § 36-4-2.
  5. Washington Const. v. Urban Renewal Auth., 383 S.E.2d 41 (W.Va. 1989).
  6. W.Va. Code § 36-3-2.
  7. Washington Const. v. Urban Renewal Auth., 383 S.E.2d 41 (W.Va. 1989),
  8. See, e.g., Chaney v. Haeder, 752 P.2d 854 (Or. Ct. App., 1988).
  9. W.Va. Code § 36-3-7.
  10. W.Va. Code § 36-4-3.
  11. W.Va. Code § 36-4-7.
  12. W.Va. Code § 36-12-5.
  13. W.Va. Code § 36-12-12(1).
  14. See W.Va. Code § 36-1-9.
  15. W.Va. Code § 36-12-13(d).
  16. Washington Const. v. Urban Renewal Auth., 383 S.E.2d 41 (W.Va. 1989), citing Moreland v. Metz, 24 W.Va. 119 (1884).
  17. W.Va. Code § 36-4-2.
  18. Washington Const. v. Urban Renewal Auth., 383 S.E.2d 41 (W.Va. 1989).
  19. W.Va. Code § 36-4-4.
  20. W.Va. Code § 36-4-5.
  21. W.Va. Code § 36-4-8.
  22. W.Va. Code § 36-3-4; W.Va. Code § 36-4-17.
  23. See W.Va. Code § 36-4-16.
  24. See, e.g., W.Va. Code § 59-1-10; W.Va. Code § 39-1-2; W.Va. Code § 36-3-5. A warranty deed that qualifies for transfer tax must also include a declaration of consideration of value. W.Va. Code § 11-22-6.