There are many different types of deeds that can be utilized for the transfer of property from one party to another in Missouri. One of the most common deeds used to transfer property is a quit claim deed.
What is a Quit Claim Deed?
A quit claim deed is a simple legal document used to transfer property ownership from one person to another. The one transferring the property is known as the “Grantor” The one receiving the property is known as the “Grantee”. Both names must appear in the deed.
The main feature of a “Quit Claim Deed” is that Grantor is essentially saying “I hereby quit all claims that I may have, if any, in this property, and I give any such interests to the Grantee”. The Grantor makes absolutely no warranties or guarantees about the property, including:
- That they own the property, wholly or partially;
- The status or condition of the property;
- Whether there are any liens on the property;
- Whether there are any competing claims to the property;
- Whether there any pending lawsuits involving the property;
- That the property is habitable or in good condition; or
- That there are no legal problems or any “cloud on title” or “cloudy title”.
When a quit claim deed is used, there is often not an exchange of money, but sometimes money may be exchanged for the signing of a quit claim deed.
The deed must also contain a legal description of the property, which is not the same as the address of the property. Legal descriptions can be very short, or can be several pages long. Most legal descriptions are fairly short, between one sentence and three sentences. The grantor must sign the quit claim deed in the presence of a notary public, who must then notarize the deed.
The quit claim deed is “recorded” with the county recorder’s office. Simply recording a deed does not require a title search or title insurance. If you record a quit claim deed and do nothing more, the property is transferred as-is and the grantor makes no promise about whether he or she owns clear title to the property, or not. The grantor simply “quits all claim, if any” to the property in question.
In What Situations are Quit Claim Deeds Most Commonly Used in Missouri?
There are some situations when quit claim deeds are commonly used to transfer property ownership in Missouri. Some examples are to transfer ownership:
- To a family member or close friend, sometimes as a gift;
- To an ex-spouse as part of a divorce settlement agreement;
- To remove a specific person as an owner when the property is owned by multiple owners;
- To move ownership into a new name after a person has had a name change;
- To a spouse to change the nature of the property from marital to separate property or to add the spouse to formerly separate property so it becomes marital property;
- To add someone on the deed who will be a joint owner with the current owner;
- Conveyance of property in “non-traditional” sales; and
- Can be used to convey property to a Trust or business entity, although a “Warranty deed” should perhaps be utilized instead. Also,
- A quit claim deed is generally not used for transferring property out of the trust (instead use a “Trustee’s Deed”) or out of a business such as a corporation or LLC (instead use a “Warranty Deed by Corporation” or “Warranty Deed by Limited Liability Company).
What are the Pros of Using a Quit Claim Deed?
There are some good reasons for using a quit claim deed in the circumstances described:
- It is a simple process. Quit claim deeds are generally short and straightforward. They generally include the name of the grantor, the name of the grantee, a description of the property, and must be notarized, then filed in the County Recorder’s office;
- The simplicity makes it easy to transfer property among family members or friends;
- They are legally binding documents that can effectively transfer property;
What are the Cons of Using a Quit Claim Deed?
Although there are many advantages, there are some disadvantages in using a quit claim deed that, in particular grantees, should be aware of:
- The Grantor makes absolutely no assertion that they own some, or all, of the property, or that there are not liens or other problems with the property;
- There is no title protection for the new owner. There may be third-party liens on the property or other title defects that will make it difficult for the grantee to make improvements to the property or even sell it.
- The property may not be owned free and clear by the grantor, or that there are no restrictions on the title or easements on the property. It is possible that the grantor has no ownership interest in the property the grantor is purportedly transferring.
- Traditional commercial mortgage lenders may not loan money on property where only a quit claim deed of ownership exists.
How Do You File a Quitclaim Deed?
Missouri law requires the quit claim deed to be filed in the county recorder’s office of the county where the property is located. It must contain the requisite information in the format required by the county for the recorder to accept the document for filing.
How an Attorney at Affordable Legal Services Can Help With Your Quit Claim Deed
Whether you are a grantor wanting to transfer ownership of property or a grantee expecting to receive ownership, consult with our real estate attorney to be sure that is the best way for the property to be transferred or whether a different type of deed would work better, or may be required in the circumstance. Quit claim deeds may not always be allowed, or may not always make sense, and we would be happy to guide you through the process. Contact us at Affordable Legal Services to schedule a consultation.