Wisconsin Quitclaim Deed Form

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What is a Wisconsin Quitclaim Deed Form?

A Wisconsin quitclaim deed form is a written instrument for conveying an ownership interest in real estate with no warranty of title.1 Warranty of title is the current owner’s promise or guaranty that the owner holds valid title to the transferred property free of undisclosed title defects.2 Possible title defects could include unresolved liens, adverse claims on the property, or chain-of-title problems derived from a failed conveyance.3

A quitclaim deed conveys to the new owner—the deed’s grantee—whatever interest the current owner holds when signing the deed.4 As quitclaim deeds provide no warranty, the current owner—the deed’s grantor—makes no representations as to the quantity or quality—or even the existence—of the transferred interest.5 The new owner assumes the risk that the property’s title is subject to defects or that the current owner lacks valid title.

Other Names for a Wisconsin Quitclaim Deed Form

Wisconsin’s statute defining forms of deeds calls a deed transferring Wisconsin real estate without warranty a quitclaim deed.6 The Supreme Court of Wisconsin also uses the term quitclaim deed and the similar quit claim deed.7 The word quitclaim can act as a verb—as in, a property owner quitclaims or quit claims real estate to a new owner.

Deeds with the same effect as quitclaim deeds are sometimes called release deeds.8 The term release deed is typically used when the person signing the deed is releasing a real estate interest to the other party. A co-owner quitclaiming an interest in real estate to the other co-owner—for instance—might use a release deed.

The term bargain and sale deed—though uncommon in Wisconsin—is occasionally used synonymously with quitclaim deed. While the two deed forms are practically the same in some states, other states distinguish between the two.9 Where the two forms differ, bargain and sale deeds convey interests vesting in the current owner after the date of the deed and may include an implied covenant that the owner genuinely holds title.10 Quitclaim deeds only convey whatever interest the signer owns when signing the deed and come with no representation as to the property’s title.

How do Wisconsin Quitclaim Deed Forms Relate to Other Forms of Deeds?

A Wisconsin quitclaim deed conveys any interest in the real estate the signer could lawfully convey. The signer does not guaranty that the transferred title is valid or defect-free.11 If the property’s title is invalid or defective, the transferee cannot assert a claim for breach of warranty—because a quitclaim deed offers no warranty.

Wisconsin law recognizes two other deed forms that do provide varying degrees of warranty of title. Warranty of title gives the new owner legal recourse against the current owner if undisclosed defects cloud the property’s title—provided a defect is within the scope of the warranty.12

Both of the following Wisconsin deed forms provide warranty of title:

  • Warranty Deeds. A Wisconsin general warranty deed—commonly called simply warranty deed—provides the most comprehensive warranty of title.13 The current owner guarantees that the deed conveys valid title subject to no undisclosed defects. The new owner can file a lawsuit against the former owner for breach of warranty if a defect emerges. A person who brings a successful breach of warranty claim can recover any financial damages that resulted from the breached warranty.14
  • Special Warranty Deeds. A Wisconsin special warranty deed provides warranty of title limited to the period while the current owner owned the property. In other words, the warranty covers a defect resulting from events that occurred while the current owner held title. A defect arising at any other point in the property’s chain of title is outside the warranty’s scope. Wisconsin does not expressly recognize special warranty deeds by statute. Instead, special warranty deeds are derived from common law, statutory authorization of warranty deeds, and the parties’ right to contractually modify the terms of conveyance.15 Special warranty deeds are also called limited warranty deeds, grant deeds, and covenant deeds—depending on the jurisdiction.

Quitclaim deeds, warranty deeds, and special warranty deeds each differently allocate the risk of title defects between the current owner and new owner. A party who does not want to bear the potential financial burden of unknown title defects can shift the risk to an insurance company by purchasing title insurance. A title insurance company—in exchange for a premium payment—agrees to indemnify the insured person against financial losses resulting from problems with a covered property’s title16 Title insurers also arrange for a thorough title examination before issuing a policy and pay legal fees for defense against claims validly within the scope of a policy.

Quitclaim Deeds and Other Wisconsin Deeds Used in Estate Planning

Quitclaim deeds and both types of warranty deeds are general deed forms distinguished by their varying degrees of warranty of title. Wisconsin also recognizes several other forms of deeds that serve narrower purposes. Other Wisconsin deed forms relevant to estate planning include:

  • Transfer on Death Deed. A Wisconsin transfer on death deed—also called TOD deed or beneficiary deed—conveys real estate to a named beneficiary upon the current owner’s death.17 TOD deeds provide an efficient means of bypassing probate without affecting the owner’s rights in the real estate during the owner’s life.18
  • Life Estate Deed. A Wisconsin life estate deed also transfers property without the need for probate. Unlike a Wisconsin transfer on death deed, though, a life estate deed cannot be revoked or modified without the consent of the beneficiaries named in the deed.
  • Personal Representative’s Deed. A Wisconsin personal representative’s deed—sometimes called executor’s deed—conveys real estate from a deceased owner’s estate to an assignee, purchaser, or beneficiary.19 A personal representative’s deed is signed by a court-appointed personal representative in connection with formal probate proceedings. A personal representative’s deed typically operates like a quitclaim deed because personal representatives of Wisconsin estates lack legal authority to warrant title to real estate in most cases.20

Common Uses of Wisconsin Quitclaim Deed Forms

Wisconsin quitclaim deeds are often used when the new owner pays significantly less than fair market value—or nothing at all—for real estate. In other words, quitclaim deeds are appropriate for most transactions involving little or no consideration. A purchaser acquiring title to valuable real estate in an arms-length sale typically insists on at least some assurance that the current owner can deliver good title.

Quitclaim deeds also work well when a deed’s purpose is to alter how real estate is titled without affecting the actual possession or control of the property. A quitclaim deed form could be an appropriate means of conveying Wisconsin real estate in any of the following scenarios:

  • A property owner conveys individually owned Wisconsin real estate to the owner and the owner’s spouse—allowing the spouses to hold the real estate as survivorship marital property.21
  • A property owner conveys Wisconsin real estate to an LLC of which the owner is a member or manager.22
  • A property owner conveys Wisconsin real estate to a trust of which the owner is a beneficiary or trustee.23
  • Married spouses gift Wisconsin real estate to one or more of their children as part of an estate plan.
  • The personal representative of a deceased person’s estate conveys Wisconsin real estate to a beneficiary or assignee of the estate in connection with probate proceedings.24
  • An ex-spouse quitclaims an interest in jointly owned real estate to the other former spouse in conjunction with a property division in a divorce case.25

How to Create a Wisconsin Quitclaim Deed

The Wisconsin State Legislature does not publish model language for quitclaim deeds, as in some states. To distinguish a quitclaim deed from other Wisconsin deed forms, a drafter should unambiguously indicate that the current owner does not warrant the property’s title or offer any covenants relating to the existence or quality of the transferred interest.26

Wisconsin quitclaim deeds typically state that the current owner quit claims or quitclaims the owner’s interest to the new owner.27 By comparison, Wisconsin warranty deeds usually say that the owner conveys the real estate.

By default, a quitclaim deed transfers the entire interest the current owner can lawfully convey—though a deed can expressly transfer a lesser interest.28 Quitclaim deeds include no covenants—whether relating to the property’s title or otherwise—unless a covenant is explicitly stated in the deed.29

All statutory requirements generally applicable to Wisconsin deeds are equally applicable to quitclaim deeds. Wisconsin law specifies precise deed-formatting standards—such as page-size, margins, and first-page layout.30 Chapter 706 of the Wisconsin Statutes identifies numerous items that a deed conveying Wisconsin real estate must contain. Required items include:

  • Names of the parties to the deed;31
  • A legal description of the real estate;32
  • Material terms or conditions of transfer;33 and,
  • The identity of the individual who prepared the deed.34

Real estate law is governed primarily at the state level, and individual states differ in their requirements. A deed must observe all rules and conventions specific to the state and county where the real estate is located. A drafter must likewise ensure that a deed’s language precisely reflects the parties’ agreed terms of transfer. A sloppily prepared deed can result in a failed conveyance, future problems with a property’s title, or legal liability.

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  1. Wis. Stat. §706.10(4).
  2. See Wis. Stat. §706.10(5).
  3. See Badger Mining Corp. v. First Am. Title Ins. Co., No. 29-cv-840-wmc (W.D. Wis. 2021).
  4. Wis. Stat. §706.01(6).
  5. Wis. Stat. §706.10(4).
  6. Wis. Stat. §706.10(4).
  7. Wagner v. Wagner, 259 N.W.2d 60 (Wis. 1977).
  8. See, e.g., Whitt v. Whitt, No. 02-CA-93 (Ohio Ct. App., 2003); Henningsen v. Stromberg, 221 P.2d 438 (Mont. 1950).
  9. See, e.g., Colo. Rev. Stat. §38-30-113(1)(c).
  10. See, e.g., Oreg. Rev. Stat. §93.860(2)(b); see also Tuttle v. Burrows, 852 P.2d 1314, 1316 (Colo. App. 1992).
  11. Wis. Stat. §706.10(4).
  12. See Schorsch v. Blader, 563 NW 2d 538 (Wis. App. 1997).
  13. Wis. Stat. §706.10(5).
  14. Schorsch v. Blader, 563 NW 2d 538 (Wis. App. 1997).
  15. See Wis. Stat. §706.10(1) and (5); Pollnow v. Dept. of Natural Resources, 276 N.W.2d 738 (Wis. 1979).
  16. See Badger Mining Corp. v. First Am. Title Ins. Co., No. 29-cv-840-wmc (W.D. Wis. 2021).
  17. Wis. Stat. §705.15(4).
  18. Wis. Stat. §705.15(3).
  19. SeeWis. Stat. §860.01.
  20. Wis. Stat. §860.07.
  21. See Wis. Stat. §700.19(1); Wis. Stat. §766.60(b)(1).
  22. See Wis. Stat. §183.0701.
  23. See Wis. Stat. §706.08(4).
  24. See Wis. Stat. §860.07.
  25. See Wis. Stat. §767.61(5) and (6).
  26. Wis. Stat. §706.10(4).
  27. See, e.g., Wagner v. Wagner, 259 N.W.2d 60 (Wis. 1977).
  28. Wis. Stat. §706.10(3) and (4).
  29. Wis. Stat. §706.10(6).
  30. Wis. Stat. §59.43(2m).
  31. Wis. Stat. §706.02(1)(a).
  32. Wis. Stat. §706.02(1)(b).
  33. Wis. Stat. §706.02(1)(c).
  34. Wis. Stat. §59.43(5)(a).