In theory, some South Florida real estate transactions are easier than others. But that’s not always the case. Even the transfer of property between family members can be complicated. That’s because certain documents are required, and even inadvertent mistakes can render them null and void.

In today’s post, we’ll explain the importance of quitclaim deeds – which are often used in these transactions – and the requirements for a valid quitclaim deed in Florida.

What is a quitclaim deed?

For starters, let’s review some basic real estate terms. A deed is a legal document facilitating the transfer of ownership from one person or entity to another. The person who transfers his or her ownership of or interest in the real property is the grantor. The person who receives it is the grantee.

A quitclaim deed is a legal document that allows someone to transfer their ownership interest in a property without providing any assurances to the person receiving the ownership interest.  This means 1) if the grantor doesn’t really have any interests in said property, the recipient doesn’t get anything; and 2) the grantee assumes responsibility for any remaining taxes, assessments, liens, encumbrances, covenants, conditions, restrictions, rights of way and easements of record.

Accordingly, quitclaim deeds are seldom used in transactions between parties who do not know each other.  Instead, they are generally used in situations where the parties are related or co-own the property in question and one person is transferring their portion to the other.  In other words, a quitclaim is best suited for use in a transaction in which there is little to no doubt about existing ownership, or a simple written document is needed to clear the title.

When should I use a quitclaim deed?

While we can’t give you specific advice without doing a detailed assessment of your situation, we can say that quitclaim deeds are generally used to:

  • Shift property title from community property to joint tenancy
  • Move property into a revocable living trust
  • Transfer property in accordance with a divorce settlement
  • Transfer one co-owner’s interests to another co-owner
  • Transfer property that you now have sole ownership of into co-ownership with someone else
  • Resolve questions related to an unclear inheritance

Elements that must be included

The requirements for a valid quitclaim deed can be found in Section 695.26 of the Florida Statutes.

It must include:

  • The parties’ names – This means the complete legal names of the grantor(s) and the grantee(s). Abbreviations and nicknames are not acceptable. The grantor should be sure to include his or her name in the same way as it appeared on the deed when he or she obtained title.
  • Property description – A legal description is assigned to every real estate parcel in Florida. You can usually find it in the deed that transferred the property to the grantor. To be safe, you should also list the property’s street address, and the property “folio” number used by the property appraiser.
  • Witnessed signatures – Under Florida law, the grantor must sign the deed. To ensure your signature is authentic, you must sign the document under the observation of two witnesses and a notary public. The witnesses must also sign in the presence of the notary.

Additional requirements

To be officially transferred, the completed quitclaim deed must be provided to the grantee. This can be done by a third party, mail or delivery services (with confirmation requested). Or if you prefer, you can hand it over directly. But simply executing and retaining a quitclaim deed is not acceptable.

This type of deed should also be submitted to the Clerk of Court for the county where the property is located. This is simply a matter of taking the deed to the Clerk’s office and paying the recording fee (typically about $10.00 for a one-page quitclaim deed, if there is no money changing hands in the deal).

Please note that if the property in question is located in Broward County, you must file the quitclaim deed with the Broward County Records, Taxes and Treasury Division.

The bottom line

At Eskander Loshak LLP, we have a proven track record of helping clients in the greater Fort Lauderdale area and beyond with a vast array of business and real estate matters. If you need help drafting or filing a quitclaim deed, or you have questions about doing so, call us at (954) 334-1122 or Contact Us Online to schedule an initial consultation today.

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